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Duchy tenants on Scilly 'ripped off' by Prince

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: July 04, 2013

Prince Charles on a visit to Lostwithiel last year. The duchy is coming under growing scrutiny.  Emily Whitfield-Wicks

Prince Charles on a visit to Lostwithiel last year. The duchy is coming under growing scrutiny. Emily Whitfield-Wicks

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PRINCE Charles has been accused of ripping off his Duchy of Cornwall tenants on the Isles of Scilly by a Labour lord.

The Prince's estate says the duchy offers accommodation for "local people at local prices".

But figures from the Council of the Isles of Scilly, where the duchy has 700 tenancies, show that his tenants are charged an average of £130 a week, compared to £70 for council tenants and £100 for those in housing association accommodation.

The average household income on the islands of St Agnes, Bryher, St Martins, Tresco and much of St Mary's, all owned by the duchy, is £277 a week against a national average of £390.

Now Labour peer Lord Berkeley is demanding an independent review of the duchy's housing policy.

The duchy estate provides Prince Charles with a multimillion-pound income.

The statistics come from Richard McCarthy, chairman of the Community Housing Association and secretary of the Duchy Tenants' Association, according to a national newspaper. He told them the local authority has some of the poorest people in the UK, with the fourth lowest level of income.

It was revealed last week that Prince Charles has seen his income rise by £763,000 in the past year alone, thanks to the duchy making record profits of £19 million in the financial year ending in March, up 4.2 per cent on 2011-12. Since the credit crunch in 2008, its income is up 26 per cent – equivalent to a 16 per cent pay rise for Prince Charles.

Lord Berkeley said: "There's a common perception that the duchy is expensive and I think it only right that we investigate exactly what it is charging compared to other landlords."

The duchy, which owns 131,000 acres across 24 counties, is coming under increasing scrutiny. Next month its officials are due to appear before the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

It was recently criticised after it was revealed anyone dying in Cornwall without writing a will would automatically have all their assets passed to Prince Charles.

The duchy claimed that money was then spent on children in Cornwall, but it was subsequently found to be funding scholarships at a posh Scottish school.

A Channel 4 Dispatches special, The Prince And His Secret Properties, was screened on Monday night.

Old Etonian Lord Berkeley is behind a Private Members' Bill calling for greater transparency of the duchy's affairs which will be given a second reading in the autumn.

He wants its profits to be handed to Cornish residents.

He said: "You do not have to be a republican to understand the importance of an open debate. There's always this feeling that if you criticise the duchy, then you're out on your ear. That cannot be right."

A duchy spokesman said: "As the major provider of residential accommodation on the Isles of Scilly, the duchy consistently favours letting to people who are resident on the islands and engaged in the local economy, at rents that are affordable for them. Negotiated rent reviews are undertaken sensitively and with due regard to circumstances on the Isles."

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