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Tony Blair has claimed more than £1m from the taxpayer in last 10 years since leaving office

Arrangements, which were previously confidential, emerged in a hearing last month at the freedom of information tribunal

Tim Wyatt
Sunday 04 November 2018 15:00 GMT
Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister in 2007
Tony Blair stepped down as prime minister in 2007 (PA)

Tony Blair has claimed more than £1m in public funds since he stepped down as prime minister, it has emerged.

All former prime ministers are entitled to an allowance of up to £115,000 a year to cover the costs of their ongoing public engagements.

In the 10 years since he left office in 2007, Mr Blair has received £1,077,888 from the government through this system, a freedom of information tribunal has revealed.

Former prime ministers John Major, Gordon Brown and David Cameron have also claimed the public duty cost allowance (PDCA).

The money is supposed to be spent on office, correspondence and public speaking costs associated with any public role former prime ministers continue to play.

The arrangements, which were previously confidential, emerged in a hearing last month at the freedom of information tribunal, the Sunday Times reported.

A hearing on 22 October was told that the Cabinet Office, which runs the allowance scheme, did hold evidence submitted by the other former premiers; Mr Blair's supporting evidence was provided for inspection but not retained by the Cabinet Office.

Officials at the Cabinet Office have fought for years to prevent any receipts and evidence for the PDCA coming to light.

Civil servants have said that the total amount each politician had claimed every year should be published, but not the details of what the money has been claimed for.

Sharon Carter, head of the propriety and ethics team at the Cabinet Office, said in a witness statement for the hearing: “There has been no expectation that the information provided in support of the claims for the PDCA would be made public.

“The total amounts claimed have been published for some years and the expectation of the former prime ministers was that this was an appropriate level of transparency.”

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A spokesman for Mr Blair said: “Tony Blair receives what is given to former prime ministers in exactly the same way as his predecessors, including reimbursement for costs associated with his former role.”

As well as all living ex-prime ministers, the former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg – who has recently taken a new job working for Facebook in California – has also been allowed to claim the allowance.

The then-head of the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team recommended that Sir Nick be given a lower allowance than the former premiers because he only served as deputy prime minister, but this was ignored and he has been allowed to claim the full £115,000 a year.

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In the last year for which figures were published, 2016-17, Mr Blair and Mr Major both claimed the maximum possible of £115,000, while Mr Brown claimed £114,838, Sir Nick claimed £114, 982 and Mr Cameron claimed £50,227.

The PDCA was established by Mr Major in 1991, one year after he took over as prime minister from Margaret Thatcher.

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