27/10/2011 22:23 BST | Updated 27/12/2011 10:12 GMT

Margaret Thatcher Claims £535,000 Of Taxpayers' Cash

Former prime minister Lady Thatcher has claimed more than half a million pounds of taxpayers' cash in the last five years, the Government has revealed.

The 86-year-old Baroness, who is rarely seen in public and suffers ongoing health problems, benefited from the public duties cost allowance available to ex-PMs.

Since 2006, she has claimed a total of £535,000 in state handouts.

The system was set up by John Major in 1991 to reward former incumbents of No 10 for work including answering letters and attending public events.

It has cost taxpayers more than £1.7 million in the past five years supporting Baroness Thatcher, her successor Sir John and, since 2007, former Labour premier Tony Blair.

Mr Blair, PM for a decade from 1997, has claimed just under £273,000 since leaving office in June 2007, including £169,076 in 2008-9 - more than his annual salary when he was in Downing Street.

Sir John, who ran the country from 1990 to 1997, has netted a total of £490,000 over the last five years.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who revealed the figures following a written Parliamentary question from Tory MP Philip Hollobone, said: "The public duties cost allowance is kept under review."