Liz Truss has been claiming from £115,000 fund for ex-PMs despite only 49 days in office

Rishi Sunak urged to ‘do right thing’ and stop ex-PM from claiming taxpayers’ cash

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 20 September 2023 11:00 BST
‘Reaction’ to mini budget the reason British economy spiralled, Liz Truss says

Liz Truss has been claiming from the £115,000-a-year public fund awarded to former prime ministers to run their offices, despite only serving for 49 days.

Cabinet Office accounts released on Tuesday show that the Conservative MP claimed £23,310 in her first five months out of office.

It was understood she has continued to claim in the current financial year that started in April, but the sum will not be disclosed until next year’s report. Ms Truss’s office declined to comment.

After she announced her resignation, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was among those arguing that Ms Truss should “turn it down” because of the brief time spent in No 10.

The Liberal Democrats’ Cabinet Office spokeswoman Christine Jardine urged Rishi Sunak to “do the right thing and stop Liz Truss from claiming taxpayers’ cash from the ex-PM fund”.

“It’s an outrage that while families struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table, Liz Truss profits from her own failure,” she said. “If Liz Truss wants to cut tax she should lead by example and stop taking hardworking British taxpayers for a ride by claiming handouts.”

The Public Duty Cost Allowance affords former prime ministers up to £115,000 a year to cover office and secretarial costs arising from public duties.

Applicable costs including those for running an office, handling correspondence as an ex-PM and for support with visits. Sir Tony Blair and Sir John Major were the only former leaders to claim the maximum amount in 2022/23, though Gordon Brown was close on £114,627.

Ms Truss’s chaotic tenure in No 10 ended on October 25 after losing the support of Tory MPs. On Monday she defended her economic crisis-inducing mini-budget a year on from her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiling the £45 billion package of unfunded tax cuts.

She hit out at economists and “institutional bureaucracy” for her downfall as she hinted at further plans to intervene in Tory politics at the party conference next month.

It comes as the Nation Audit Office (NAO) said the Cabinet Office failed to follow proper processes by allowing to foot the bill for Boris Johnson’s legal defence costs over Partygate.

The government’s arguments for spending £265,000 were found to be not “wholly persuasive”. The NAO also found that the examples highlighted by the government as precedent were “substantively different” from Mr Johnson’s case.

It comes as a major review found that the UK constitution is in urgent need of reform after a tumultuous period in politics exposed weaknesses that have damaged both public trust and the country’s international reputation.

A joint report by the Institute for Government and Cambridge University’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy said “further injury” had been caused by a series of scandals involving ministers and MPs.

Recent events were said to have tested the effectiveness of these arrangements, with Brexit leading to division over the appropriate balance of power between governing institutions. This was reflected in the UK Supreme Court ruling to set limits on executive power after Boris Johnson attempted to prorogue parliament in September 2019.

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