Public Duties Cost Allowance: Liz Truss will be able to claim up to £115,000 per year after leaving office

Truss could become latest former PM to benefit from £115k scheme even if she leaves Downing Street just months after taking office
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Liz Truss will be entitled to claim up to £115,000 per year from the taxpayer for the rest of her life, despite likely being one of the shortest-serving prime ministers in history.

And now almost 200,000 people have signed a petition calling on Liz Truss not to claim the cash.

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The Public Duties Cost Allowance (PDCA) allows former prime ministers to claim back money toward the cost of maintaining their activities in public life.

Former PMs have claimed back millions through the scheme since it was set up in 1991 following the resignation of Margaret Thatcher.

After resigning last week, Truss will become the sixth living former PM entitled to claim back through the scheme, which could result in the taxpayer paying out more than £700,000 per year including pension contributions.

Truss has only been in office for 44 days, but has stepped down following a number of major policy U-turns and discontent among Conservative MPs.

How much did each former PM claim last year?

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John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron all claimed more than £100,000 through the PDCA in 2020/2021, according to 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.

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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.

While the payment is generally reserved for former prime ministers, an exception was made for Sir Nick Clegg, who served as deputy prime minister in the coalition government between 2010-2015.

Sir Nick ceased his claim in 2019-2020, having already banked £444,775 through the PDCA scheme by that time.

What is the Public Duties Cost Allowance?

The PDCA was introduced in 1991 to “assist former Prime Ministers still active in public life” with Margaret Thatcher its first recipient.

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According to a government briefing note, payments through the PDCA “are made only to meet the actual cost of continuing to fulfil public duties. The costs are a reimbursement of incurred expenses for necessary office costs and secretarial costs arising from their special position in public life.

“The allowance is not paid to support private or parliamentary duties. The PDCA is in addition to any constituency office which they may maintain as an MP.”

The PDCA scheme was set up by the former senior civil servant Sir Robin Butler in 1991, shortly after Mrs Thatcher announced her resignation.

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.

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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”.

How many people have signed a petition against Truss claiming the cash?

A petition on has been signed by 177,431 people as of the time of writing. It is calling on Truss to voluntarily forego the payment, or either the award of PDCA to be withheld by the Cabinet Office permanently.

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