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Sunak should 'reinvest money'

MP calls for more furlough recipients to repay taxpayer

Jenners owned by House of Fraser

Mr Povlsen owns the building that houses Jenners

A Scottish MP has called for more companies in receipt of furlough payments to consider repaying the taxpayer after Scotland’s biggest private landowner became the latest employer to return cash to the Treasury.

Wildland, the estate vehicle of Danish billionaire Anders Povlsen, has arranged a repayment of £296,000 to the UK public purse.

Mr Povlsen, who has an estimated £6 billion fortune, is the owner of the online retailer Asos and the building occupied by the Jenners department store. Questions were asked in May why a billionaire was in receipt of public subsidy. However, his business was expecting to make a loss.

His repayment follows similar moves by Scottish firms Smart Metering Systems and Scottish Sea Farms, together with high profile companies such as housebuilders Barratt, Redrow, and Taylor Wimpey, Games Workshop and The Spectator magazine.

Wildland chief executive Tim Kirkwood confirmed that it would reimburse the taxpayer for all of the cost of its furloughed workers.

He said UK government support had been able to protect nearly 50 employees who work on WildLand’s estates.

SNP MP Drew Hendry urged other companies to repay the money if they feel able to do so.

He has called on the Chancellor to “do the right thing” and reinvest these returns into support for small businesses and those who have fallen through the gaps of available support.

The MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey said: “My SNP colleagues and I have consistently called for the gaps in available support to be closed, and for the support to be strengthened. I hope he will do the right thing and use this money to do just that.”

Update 21 Sept

Employers have returned £215 million to the Treasury in furlough payments they did not need.

So far 80,433 employers have repaid money received through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The companies and other bodies paid back a total of £215,756,121 as of 15 September, according to data obtained by the PA news agency through a freedom of information request.

The sum is still a small portion of the £35.4 billion that has been claimed as part of the scheme.

HMRC said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has helped 1.2 million employers across the UK furlough 9.6 million jobs.

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