While millions of people in the UK struggled as a result of the pandemic, living former prime minister’s claimed more than £550,000 from the taxpayer last year, NationalWorld can reveal.
After resigning in July, Boris Johnson is entitled to claim up to £115,000 per year through the same scheme which a number of former prime minister’s are currently benefitting from.
David Cameron, who was widely criticised for his lobbying efforts on behalf of the now-defunct Greensill Capital, is among the former premiers who claimed back thousands.
How much did each former PM claim?
John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Cameron all claimed more than £100,000 through the public duties cost allowance (PDCA) in 2020/2021, according to the Cabinet Office accounts for that period.
Major and Blair both claimed back the maximum available allowance, of £115,000, while Brown claimed just under, at £114,712, and Cameron slightly less again, at £113,423.
Theresa May, the only former prime minister who still serves as an MP and therefore already receives a taxpayer salary to carry out ‘public duties’, claimed £57,832.
In total, pension contributions linked to the PDCA cost the taxpayer £55,381 in 2020/2021.
Boris Johnson became eligible to claim through the scheme after leaving office earlier this year, although it is not yet known whether he has received funds through the PDCA as this year’s Cabinet Office accounts are yet to be filed as of 17 October.
What is the PDCA?
The PDCA was introduced by John Major in 1991 to “assist former Prime Ministers still active in public life” with Margaret Thatcher its first recipient.
The allowance is a reimbursement of expenses for “necessary office and secretarial costs arising from fulfilling public duties” according to the Cabinet Office.
In addition to the PDCA, former PMs are entitled to claim a pension allowance to contribute towards their office staff pension costs, limited to 10% of the maximum allowance.
An amendment to the PDCA was made in 2011 to allow former deputy PM Nick Clegg to claim through the scheme, though he eventually voluntarily opted out in 2017.
Since 2013, former PMs have claimed almost £4m through the allowance, and the full cost of the PDCA since its creation is significantly more, although records up to 1997 are no longer held.
Responding to a written question by Rupa Huq in 2021, then Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez said the costs for which former PMs can claim include “diary support, Met Police protection on public visits, correspondence, staffing at public visits, support to charitable work, social media platforms and managing and maintaining ex-PMs office”.
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