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Billionaire Tory’s donor firm has claimed millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded cash – after raising £75m

A billionaire Tory Donor company continues to claim millions of pounds in taxpayer funding on leave money after recognizing £75.3 million in profit, The Independent may disclose.

Malcolm Healey’s company, Wren Kitchens, has used public funds to help support bank staff costs during the Covid pandemic, even though it has deposited tens of millions of pounds of pre-tax profit into its 2020 account.

It comes as Healey himself donated £500,000 to Boris Johnson’s party in December 2020, meaning he has given the Tories £2.31m since 2017, according to Electoral Commission records.

An analysis earlier this year found that Healey – who lives on a 12,000-acre property and is described as a reclusive figure – had biggest individual sponsor for the Conservative Party since Johnson entered Downing Street.

The Kitchens Healey tycoon has received £15.55m in 2020 through the government’s job retention scheme, set up to help struggling businesses pay staff during the pandemic Covid-19, according to its latest accounts.

But rather than feel pinched during the pandemic, the kitchen maker saw its pre-tax profit rise to £75.31m in the 12 months to the end of December 2020, up from £65.18m of the previous year.

There is no suggestion that Healey’s company has broken any rules but a Labor MP said using the scheme went against its “whole spirit”, labeling it as “worthless”. morality”.

Many companies that claimed to be making a lot of money during the pandemic either stopped doing so when they endured the crisis better than expected or have already returned the money. Instead of handing large sums back to taxpayers, Wren Kitchens continues to claim from public purses in 2021, receiving more than £3 million in higher payouts, according to an analysis of HMRC data of the The Independent.

Labor MP Rushanara Ali, a member of the influential Treasury selection committee, told The Independent: “This goes against the whole spirit of the furlough scheme. It is unfair and immoral for the billionaire Tory’s sponsor company to take taxpayer money to pay employees when their business is not in trouble, at a time when millions are struggling. and continue to struggle for a living.

“Support should only go to employers who need it. Many companies have returned money to the Treasury after weathering the crisis better than expected, which is the right thing to do.”

For each of the three months between January and March, Wren Kitchens Ltd has claimed between £1,000,001 and £2.5 million, as well as between £250,001 and £500,000 in April. During this period, the chapter The scheme paid 80% of an employee’s salary up to a cap of £2,500 a month. The company did not make any statements between May and August.

The figures released by HMRC detail the plan, ending September 30 after it was set by prime minister Rishi Sunak in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.

That means the company has claimed at least £3.25 million in cash since the start of the year – although the figure is likely much higher since HMRC data is only provided in strips.

Wren Kitchens accounts also show that the company paid directors a total of £1.55 million in 2020, with the highest salary received being £186,636. These figures appear in the latest Company account, published June 25.

The company, which manufactures and supplies equipped kitchens, has faced criticism from Unite Union – the organization whose members are at the company – from the outset of the pandemic last March for having lay off hundreds of employees.

At the time, Wren said it was “anticipating that there will be a reduction in economic activity due to the coronavirus and has identified underperforming team members and taken steps to reduce headcount.” tablets accordingly”.

As for the puzzling details, Unite regional official Mike Wilkinson said: “Wren Kitchens’ bravery is not at all surprising. Rottenness befell Wren as they rushed to fire room staff. on display at the first lock.”

He added: “It should come as no surprise that Wren, under the guidance of owner Malcolm Healey, will seize the opportunity to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize his already enormous fortune.”

Wren Kitchens is a subsidiary of The WEST Retail Group Ltd, with the ultimate controlling party being Malcolm Healey. Malcolm and his brother Eddie, who died in August, are listed as worth £2.2 billion as they are jointly ranked 75th on the Sunday Times Rich List 2021 – a rise in wealth 200 million pounds over the previous year. Malcolm Healey lives in the Warter Priory estate, near York, which he bought for £48 million in 1998.

Wren Kitchens did not respond to a request for comment.

A Treasury spokesman said: “Furlough has provided a lifeline to more than a million businesses across the UK and protected almost 12 million jobs – with businesses moving all the money they receive. from the employee program.

“We will not apologize for doing everything we can during this unprecedented economic shock to support eligible businesses; As a result of our actions, the economy is growing, more employees are on the payroll than ever before, and the unemployment rate has fallen for nine straight months. “

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

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-donor-covid-furlough-money-b1969237.html Billionaire Tory’s donor firm has claimed millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded cash – after raising £75m

JACLYN DIAZ

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