To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the outturn spending from the public purse on the Prime Ministerial residence in Downing Street in each financial year since 1997 for which records are held.
23 April 2021
The Downing Street complex is a working building, as well as containing two Ministerial residences. As has always been the case, refurbishments and maintenance are made periodically. The Government is legally required to maintain the Downing Street buildings to the high standards appropriate to its Grade 1 and 2 listed status in consultation with Historic England. The listed status, as well as security and other relevant factors, significantly add to the cost of maintenance and repairs, compared to normal properties.
Across successive governments, Prime Ministers have received an annual allowance of up to £30,000 a year from the public purse to contribute towards the costs associated with maintaining and furnishing of the residency within the Downing Street estate.
Such works contribute to assets owned and held by the nation for use by Ministers, including for example for hosting official guests.
Figures for outturn spending from that allowance on the No 11 flat (the residence of the Prime Minister since 1997) are as follows.
To assist public scrutiny, they are presented in cash terms at the time of the payments, and in real terms (equivalent costs today).
*Using HMT figures for GDP deflator for 2019-20.
Note: The annual allowance may be combined or spread to support works across financial years.
Figures exclude essential works to make good the premises prior to occupation.
No works took place in 2019-20 partly due to the general election and the covid pandemic.
Audited figures of spending from the allowance for the 2020-21 financial year are not yet available; works have taken place by long-standing Downing Street contractors on painting, sanding and floorboards. Any costs of wider refurbishment in this year have been met by the Prime Minister personally.
The Government has been considering the merits of whether works on parts or all of the Downing Street estate could be funded by a trust; this could mirror long-standing arrangements in place for Chequers (a private trust) or for Dorneywood (a charitable trust), reducing the need for subsidy from the public purse. Such matters are legally complex and policy development is ongoing. The Government engaged with the Leader of the Opposition’s Office on the proposals in July.
Matters concerning works on the Downing Street estate, including the residences, will be covered in the Cabinet Office’s forthcoming annual report and audited accounts.