Lady Thatcher, the former Conservative prime minister, has claimed more than half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money in the last five years, it emerged on Thursday.
The 86-year-old Baroness benefited from the public duties cost allowance available to former UK premiers. Between 2006 and 2011 she claimed a total of £535,000.
The system was set up by Sir John Major in 1991 to reward former incumbents of No 10 for work including answering letters and attending public events. Yet Baroness Thatcher is rarely seen in public and suffers ongoing health problems.
The public duties cost allowance was capped at just £52,760 a year in 2001 but has since risen sharply.
The allowance has cost taxpayers more than £1.7 million in the past five years supporting Baroness Thatcher, Sir John and Tony Blair, according to a written Parliamentary answer published by the government.
Mr Blair, prime minister from 1997 to 2007, has claimed just under £273,000 since leaving office in June 2007. That figure included £169,076 in 2008-9 – more than his annual salary when he was prime minister.
Sir John, who ran the country from 1990 to 1997, received a total of £490,000 over the last five years.
Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, revealed the figures following a written Parliamentary question from Tory MP Philip Hollobone. Mr Maude said: “The public duties cost allowance is kept under review.”