Billionaire Tory donor’s firm claimed millions in furlough cash – after £75m profit

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The firm of a billionaire Tory Donner continued to claim millions of pounds of taxpayer-funded furlough money after reporting a profit of £75.3 million, Granthshala can reveal.

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Malcolm Healy’s company, Wren Kitchen, used public money to help control costs for its employees during the COVID pandemic, even as it banked tens of millions of pounds of pre-tax profit in its 2020 accounts.

It comes as Healy personally donated £500,000 to Boris Johnson’s party in December 2020, meaning he has given £2.31 million to the Tories since 2017, according to EC records.


An analysis earlier this year found that Healy – who lives in a 12,000-acre estate and has been described as a reclusive person – was the biggest personal loss to the Conservatives since Johnson entered Downing Street. was a donor.

Kitchen tycoon Healy’s firm received £15.55 million in 2020 through the government’s job retention scheme, set up to help struggling businesses pay employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its latest accounts Was.

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But instead of feeling the pinch during the pandemic, the kitchen maker saw its pre-tax profit climbing from £65.18 million last year to £75.31 million in the 12 months to the end of December 2020.

There is no suggestion that Healy’s firm broke any rules, but a Labor lawmaker said its use of the plan was against its “entire spirit”, calling it “immoral”.

Many companies that claimed furlough money during the pandemic either stopped doing so when they faced a better-than-expected crisis, or refunded the money. Instead of handing the furlough money back to the taxpayer, Wren Kitchen continued to claim from the public purse in 2021, receiving more than £3 million in furlough payments, according to an analysis of HMRC data. Granthshala,

Labor MP Rushanara Ali, a member of the influential Treasury selection committee, told Granthshala: “This is against the whole spirit of the furlough scheme. It is unfair and unethical for a billionaire Tory Donner’s firm to take taxpayer money to pay employees when their business is no longer needed, at a time when millions were struggling and struggling to make ends meet. were fighting for.

“Support should only go to employers who needed it. Many companies turned the money back to the Treasury after a better-than-expected crisis, which was the right thing to do. ,

For each of the three months between January and March, Wren Kitchen Ltd claimed between £1,000,001 and £2.5million, as well as between £250,001 and £500,000 in April. During this period, the scheme paid 80 per cent of a vacation worker’s salary to the extent of £2,500 per month. The company did not make any claims between May and August.

The figures are detailed in data published by HMRC on the plan, which ended on 30 September after it was instituted by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

This means the firm has claimed at least £3.25 million in cash since the start of the year – although that figure could be much higher as HMRC data is only provided in-band.

Accounts from Wren Kitchen also show that the firm paid a total of £1.55 million to directors in 2020, with the highest pay being £186,636. The figures were revealed in its latest Company House accounts, which were published on June 25.

The firm, which manufactures and supplies fitted kitchens, faced criticism from the Unite union – of which the company is members – for laying off hundreds of employees at the start of the pandemic in March last year.

At the time, Wren said he had “estimated that economic activity would decrease due to the coronavirus and had identified team members who were underperforming and took steps to reduce their headcount accordingly”.

Of the furlough details, Unite regional officer Mike Wilkinson said: “Wren Kitchen’s gall is utterly astonishing. Rot set in with the wrens when they ran to get rid of showroom employees in the first shock of lockdown. “

He added: “It should come as no surprise that Wren, under the guidance of owner Malcolm Healy, would seize the opportunity to use taxpayer money to subsidize his already vast fortune.”

Wren Kitchen is a subsidiary of The West Retail Group Limited, whose ultimate controlling party is Malcolm Healy. Malcolm and his brother, Eddie, who died in August, were listed as being worth £2.2 billion when they were jointly ranked 75th on the 2021 Sunday Times Rich List – the previous year’s tally. A £200 million increase in wealth in comparison. Malcolm Healy lives in the Warter Priory estate near York, which he bought in 1998 for £48 million.

Wren Kitchen did not respond to requests for comment.

A Treasury spokesman said: “The furloughs provided a lifeline to more than one million businesses across the UK and protected nearly 12 million jobs – with businesses passing all the money from the scheme to employees.

“We will not apologize for doing everything we could during this unprecedented economic shock to support eligible businesses; As a result of our action, the economy is growing, more workers are on the payroll than ever before and unemployment has fallen for nine months in a row.”

The Conservative Party did not respond to a request for comment.


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