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How do we work out the cost to the taxpayer?

andrew markwort

Active Member
This isn't addressing any specific news item, but we often hear that a public event (e.g. royal wedding, visit of a foreign leader) will cost £X million to the taxpayer, mostly in the security required.

How are these figures arrived at, please? Surely a lot of the costs are for the wages of police and security forces who are paid to do this sort of thing anyway and otherwise would be doing other parts of their job? Is all the money quoted by the media really genuinely on top of what people are already paid, or is it just that the media work out how many man hours are involved and create ballpark figures?

So for example, in the case of the royal wedding security, let's say it costs £20m - how much of this sum is money that would have been paid anyway as part of wage packets, and how much is genuinely extra cost?

I just wonder how much of supposed costs is little more than media manipulation of figures.

P.S. Please can we not derail this into a rant about how much a particular event costs? :lease:


Distinguished Member
The estimated cost is probably literally "plucked out of the air", and if past experience holds true whatever the current estimate is it will be doubled when the invoice is presented.

Duncan G

Well-known Member
You have the normal security costs for day to day work but a Royal wedding is outside the norm and more security work is needed hence more costs.


Distinguished Member
How are these figures arrived at, please? Surely a lot of the costs are for the wages of police and security forces who are paid to do this sort of thing anyway and otherwise would be doing other parts of their job? res.

They are not paid to Police the Royal family, like they are not paid to police football matches hence why there are additional costs involved


Distinguished Member
I think for events like you mention (Royal Wedding etc) it is fairly easy.

It will be massively project managed and they will have a fair idea of the cost, yes it might end up more but they have an idea. They know how much is going to be paid by the royal family, guests, advertisers etc. The rest gets paid by the government (aka the taxpayer).

What does make me laugh is when they say things like "people failing to turn up to GP and hospital appointments cost the taxpayer £xxx". That is ridiculous unless they are really saying that if they had known about the no shows they could have sacked some doctors and nurses. The cost is there whether they show up or not. In fact you could say it is cheaper if they don't show because no perscriptions will be issued or further treatment prescribed.




Distinguished Member
Well, the figure you get quoted will depend entirely on the agenda of the person who worked it out.
But whatever the figure, it won't include any reference to the good the wedding will do to the balance of trade, through tourism primarily, but a whole multitude of other things too. Many tourists visit the UK primarily for the heritage and pomp and pageantry, of which the Royal Family are an integral, if not the most vital part. Do away with them (so to speak) and yes you may save several millions of visible expenditure, but you would lose a whole lot more through lost tourism.

If the Queen gave up on Buckingham Palace, what would be the point of Changing the Guard? And if you don't Change the Guard, thats one less major tourist attraction in London. Which would result in losses to the local economy probably much larger than the cost of staging the event in the first place.


Distinguished Member
Actually the football clubs do pay for policing football matches


But if they didn't then the Police wouldn't do it, same with policing Royal Family events

The only difference is the tax payer picks up additional costs for the Royal family

andrew markwort

Active Member
so all the officers there are effectively on over-time since they should be having a day off etc.

£20m? That's one heck of an overtime bill. ;) Okay, I entirely accept that overtime will be a genuine cost, but I still can't see how it will amount to the figures quoted by the media.

Thanks for all the replies, folks. I just wonder if we've ever been given the accurate figures for how much an event costs the taxpayer above and beyond the normal wages bill that would be paid anyway.


Distinguished Member
The true cost of such an event is to ask "by how much would our bank balance be greater if it doen't occur?"

I'm sure your original idea is the correct one. There will be extra cost in planned overtime, etc, but the media and whoever else wishes to oppose the event will without a doubt quote the total cost, including whatever would have been spent anyway.

At a guess, though, for something like a royal wedding, I would think that the extra cost is quite a high proportion of the total. On the other hand, over a year there are always some such events, such as demos, rallies, etc, which could be classed as specials of this type, and society is by and large happy to pay for the extra policing, which they see as a necessary part of the cost of maintaining law and order and security. A royal wedding could be classed as such an event, so perhaps we should just write it off under the annual policing budget. On that basis, it doesn't matter whether any specific event occurs or not; the money is part of the budgets of the various groups involved, and would be spent anyway.

So my considered answer to "how much is [the event, let's say next years R-W] going to cost the taxpayer?" is "probably nothing".

I know you were trying to be rather more general than this specific event, but what I say could apply more generally, too.


Senior Moderator
Oh dear. Police who manage to bag a match day duty are paid normal duty costs. They only earn overtime on actual overtime, just as they would at the station or in a patrol car. They don't get overtime rates for the entire duration of policing a footie match :rolleyes:

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