The coronavirus retention program was introduced by the government at the start of the pandemic. It allows businesses to recover 80% of an employee’s salary, up to £ 2,500 per month.
However, it has emerged that some of Britain’s wealthiest people benefit from the scheme and use taxpayer money to pay workers.
The Sunday Times reports that five of the wealthiest 10 people in the country own businesses that have put workers on leave under the program.
This is because the country’s super-rich have lost more than £ 54 billion in the past two months amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
The newspaper ranked Sports Direct tycoon Ashley (£ 1.95 billion) 75th on the list, with wealth down from £ 27 million last year. It is claimed that the majority of its 18,000 employees in the Frasers group are on leave.
Newcastle United came under fire for club staff at a time when other Premier League clubs – such as Liverpool and Tottenham – were forced to turn around. The Magpies called the staff back earlier this week before football could return in June.
Real estate moguls David and Simon Reuben (£ 16 billion), who are on the verge of taking a 10% stake in Newcastle United if the impending takeover is carried out, are ranked second on the wealthy list . Their wealth was down 2.66 billion pounds last year.
The brothers – who own Newcastle racetrack and are responsible for major real estate developments in the city – are said to have put around 750 employees on their racetracks and pubs, but have pledged to raise their wages.
Sri and Gopi Hinduja, who surpassed last year’s list of rich people at £ 22 billion, are other billionaires accused of taking the leave.
The two brothers, who lost £ 6 billion this year, have laid off some of their 360 employees at Optare, their bus manufacturing company based in North Yorkshire.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe (£ 12.15 billion), co-owner of The Pig hotel chain, who has been linked to a buyout of Newcastle United in the past, has been criticized after putting most of his staff on leave .
1. Sir James Dyson and his family, household goods and technology, £ 16.2 billion
2. Sri and Gopi Hinduja and family, industry and finance, £ 16 billion
3. David and Simon Ruben, property and the Internet, £ 16 billion
4. Sir Leonard Blavatnik, investment, music and media, £ 15.78 billion
5. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chemical giant of Ineos, £ 12.15 billion
6. Kirsten and Jorn Rausing, inheritance and investment, £ 12.1 billion
7. Alisher Usmanov, mining and investment, £ 11.68 billion
8. Guy, George and Galen Jr Weston and their family, retail, £ 10.53 billion
9. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho, inheritance, brewery and bank, £ 10.3 billion
10. The Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family, property, £ 10.29 billion
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that Sir Philip Green (£ 930 million) had authorized 14,500 of the 16,000 employees in his retail empire Arcadia.
This year’s Rich List, which includes the 1,000 wealthiest people in the UK, has a combined wealth of £ 743 billion – 29 billion less than last year’s total participants.
London remains the billionaire capital of the world with a total of 89 born or living in the city.
Pop star Rihanna, who now lives in London, made her Rich List debut with an estimated fortune of £ 468 million.
Inventor Sir James Dyson was first declared the wealthiest person in the UK with a portfolio valued at £ 16.2 billion.
Sir James, 72, tops the list despite losing £ 500 million of his own money on an abandoned electric car project.
There was a record 25 women billionaires on this year’s list, the 32nd edition of the definitive guide to the wealthiest people in Britain.
List compiler Robert Watts said: “Since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the wealthiest people in Britain have become increasingly wealthy.
“Covid-19 called time for its golden period. This year’s rich list portrays a picture of Britain on the brink of disaster – two months after the foreclosure and billions of pounds have already been wiped out.
“You may not like the super-rich, but it’s hard to deny that our economy will need the jobs they create and the taxes they and their businesses pay if we are to escape a protracted recession that causes new miseries for millions of people. “
The full list of the wealthiest 1,000 people in the UK was published in a 136-page edition of the Sunday Times Magazine.