Public Duties Cost Allowance: former PMs claimed more than £500,000 in taxpayers’ money last year

Former PMs have claimed more than £4.6million through the scheme in the last decade

Sir John Major and Sir Tony Blair both claimed the full amount available to them through the controversial Public Duties Cost Allowance (PDCA) last year.

The total cost of the scheme dropped slightly in 2021/2022 compared with the previous year, though is expected to increase significantly next year as two additional former Prime Ministers will be eligible for the allowance. There are now more former PMs eligible to claim than at any time since it was launched in 1991.

After Liz Truss resigned last year having been in office for just over a month, Labour leader Keir Starmer called for her to be blocked from receiving the PDCA.

Major and Blair claim full amount for 10th year running

Sir John Major and Sir Tony Blair both claimed the full £115,000 last year. Both men have claimed the full entitlement since at least 2013, apart from in 2018/2019, when Sir John claimed £114,935 - £65 short of the full entitlement.

Gordon Brown claimed £114,655 last year, and has consistently claimed around £114,000 through the scheme. David Cameron’s claim for 2021/2022 was down slightly on the previous year, from £113,423 to £106,747 - this despite his maintaining a limited public profile.

Theresa May is the only former PM who still sits as an MP. She claimed £80,083 through the PDCA last year, up significantly from £57,832 the previous year. This was in addition to her £84,000 MP salary, and her significant earnings from speaking engagements, which totalled more than £1 million last year.

In total, the cost of the PDCA last year was £542,985, including pension costs for former PMs’ staff worth £11,500. Since 2013, former PMs have claimed more than £4.6m through the PDCA, including pension costs for their staff. The payouts peaked in 2017/2018 at £610,988.

Next year could see the cost of the PDCA rise significantly, as both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss will be eligible to claim up to £115,000 each, plus staff pension costs.

Last year, following reports that Truss would be entitled to the allowance despite being in office for just 44 days, the shortest tenure of any Prime Minister in the modern era, Starmer joined calls for her to decline the allowance.

Asked whether it is morally right for Truss to accept the entitlement, the Labour leader said: "No, she shouldn’t take that entitlement after 44 days. She has not earned the right to that entitlement. In my view, she should turn it down."

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.

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”.