Shortest-Serving Prime Minister Urged to Refuse £115,000 Yearly Allowance
Now that Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister after just 44 days in office, she is entitled to an annual allowance of £115,000 for the rest of her life. Following outcry from the general public and politicians alike, Truss has been under pressure to refuse this payment altogether.
There have been calls for the allowance to be withheld from Liz Truss or that she voluntarily refuses it. Sir Keir Starmer has even said that she has “not earned the right” to call on the funds that all ex-prime ministers are entitled to. Public outcry has followed when this payment came to light as people believe Truss should not have the benefit of the allowance after tanking the economy.
The Public Duty Costs Allowance (PDCA) covers the costs that arise as a result of public duties as ex-PM. After Margaret Thatcher’s resignation, John Major set up the allowance in 1991. It comes with the proviso that former prime ministers need to still be active in public life and can cover the costs of fulfilling public duties by drawing on this fund.
Any expenses for public costs and secretarial costs, such as office costs, salaries for staff or travel to events where they’re appearing as ex-PM, are reimbursed. They have a special position in public life, which is what this allowance is aimed to recognise.
It’s important to note that former prime ministers don’t simply receive the money. The PDCA is not a salary or a type of pension. It’s not paid to support private or parliamentary duties either. Ex-PMs have to claim back on expenses incurred as outlined above.
All former prime ministers are entitled to claim the PDCA. John Major and Tony Blair claimed the full amount in the tax year 2020/2021. In the same period, Gordon Brown claimed £114,712 and David Cameron claimed £113,423, while Theresa May claimed only £57,382. The figures for the tax year 2021/2022 are due to be published next year and will clarify whether Boris Johnson has claimed any of the allowance.
Additionally, former prime ministers are able to receive a one-off severance payment of 25% of the post they’ve left. This is around £19,000 for PMs. Following how unpopular Liz Truss was as Prime Minister, there have been calls for her to not take the severance payment, just like Boris Johnson had.