Houses of Parliament will have to be abandoned without £3bn renovation
Speaker John Bercow warns the building could become unusable in less than 20 years
The Houses of Parliament will have to be abandoned unless huge sums are spent over the next decade to renovate the crumbling building, the Commons Speaker John Bercow has warned.
The cost to taxpayer of restoring the Palace of Westminster, which has not been refurbished since repairs to war damage in the 1940s, has been estimated at more than £3bn. The scale of the task is so vast that MPs and peers could have to move out for five years to allow the work to be completed.
Mr Bercow called for the authorities to face up to the issue, predicting that the Victorian building would become unusable in less than 20 years unless it underwent a massive and expensive overhaul.
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Falling down? British houses of parliament repairs could total £7.1bn, take 32 years
18 Jun, 2015
British taxpayers face a whopping renovation fee of up to £7.1 billion to save the crumbling mother of parliaments from irrevocable damage, a report says.
MPs could be forced to vacate the whole building for six years while essential repairs are carried out to the beleaguered structure.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is in a state of major dilapidation, with crumbling stonework and leaking roofs, surveys have said.
A report by the Independent Options Appraisal (IOA) found the cheapest option for repairs to the Palace of Westminster, as the parliament buildings are called, would cost £3.5 billion and would require all members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords to vacate the building for six years.
Senior government officials are said to oppose relocating parliament to another site, meaning the cost of repairs could reach as high as £7.1 billion.
If MPs choose to stay in the Palace, renovations to the building could take up to 32 years.
Even in this scenario, the Commons debating chamber would still be closed for a period of two to four years while urgent repairs are carried out.
One option suggested by the IOA is to build a temporary chamber in the courtyard of the Palace where MPs could sit.
A statement issued on behalf of the House of Commons and House of Lords said: “The restoration of the Palace of Westminster will be a major challenge facing parliament in the coming years and is certain to be a matter of public interest."
The iconic building was completed in 1870 after a fire destroyed the original medieval Palace in 1834.
Today it suffers from major dilapidation, has asbestos in much of the building and is vulnerable to another fire.
Richard Ware, program director for Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal, said: “The Palace has reached a turning point in its history, with many features needing major renovation.
"It is clear from this report that Parliament is faced with some difficult choices. The Palace of Westminster is a building of huge national and international importance and we face a massive challenge in securing its future.
"Parliament will now consider the recommendations of the IOA and will do everything possible to secure value for money and ensure transparency throughout the process."
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at the Telegraph
Emergency Budget: Where George Osborne's £12bn welfare cuts will fall
The Chancellor will have to end the madness of welfare dependency without angering the British people - but he must persist
The Chancellor said that the Opposition's plans to increase the top rate of income tax to 50p showed that the party was opposed to enterprise and would push Britain back into a downturn Photo: PA
By James Bartholomew
07 Jul 2015
This is going to be one of the most tricky and important announcements in the long history of welfare benefits. The Tories promised in their manifesto to cut £12 billion by 2017/18.
How big is the pie from which Mr Osborne is going to cut a slice? This year, the total welfare budget is expected to be £220 billion.
But the Conservatives have said they will not touch the state pension or universal pensioner benefits, so that leaves a budget of £125 billion from which cuts have to be made.
This means the cut must be big: almost a tenth of what remains.
The trick Osborne must pull off is to cut welfare spending pretty dramatically without appearing like Scrooge or an inverted Robin Hood – taking from the poor to give to the rich.
• July Budget 2015 LIVE: Welfare bill to take centre stageOne key problem: If he takes money from better-off benefit claimants he will reduce work incentives (which is bad). But if he improves work incentives, he will hit the worse-off (which is politically difficult and might lead to hardship). This is not going to be easy.
Where will the cuts fall?
The three biggest welfare benefit costs (excluding pensioners) are:
1. Tax credits for those on low pay and especially those who have children (£30billion).He will certainly make cuts to one of the first two and probably both. He is less likely to go for the disability and incapacity benefits because of the storm it would cause. It is just possible, though, that improvements might be announced to the way in which the disabled are helped into work or the way in which checks are made that people are genuinely disabled.
2. Housing Benefit (£26 billion).
3. Disability and incapacity benefits (£37billion).
Why do the cuts at all?
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