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UK aristocrats make claims under furlough scheme

British aristocrats and inheritors of estates have drawn on public funds that were put in place to help struggling citizens get through the Covid-19 caused crisis.
Wealthy owners of businesses and large acres of land in the UK have made claims to pay staff that work at the ancestral estates and their personal businesses, reported the Guardian on Monday.

The report comes a month after the newspaper published data that tax exiles, Saudi royals and multi-billionaires were also claiming support from the government to pay staff working in their companies.

One example named by the Guardian in its report are the Duke and Duchess of Rutland that have requested support through companies owned by them and made up to four claims of £10,000 in December of 2020 and an additional claim of up to £25,000 in January at the start of the national lockdown.

The Duke has an estimated personal wealth of £125m according to the Sunday Times rich list of 2013.

Another aristocrat that has made claims was the Viscount of Cowdray, Michael Pearson, who owns a stake in Pearson publishing and the estate Cowdray Park.

Through his company he made claims of up to £25,000 in December last year and £50,000 in January this year. He also claimed through the Cowdray Farm shop up to £25,000 in January and the Cowdray Park Polo Club also received support.

One of the claimants that has received most support from the scheme was the Earl of Dalhousie, who is the owner of Brechin Castle Centre and received up to £100,000 to pay staff as of January this year.

Olivia Blake, a Labour member of the Commons public accounts committee, which oversees government spending, said according to the report by the Guardian: “Clearly the furlough scheme was an opportunity to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs up and down the country. It’s meant to be a lifeline for businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.

“Questions need to be asked about whether this money has gone to those who really need it, or to people and companies who could have made their way through comfortably. Many companies have been handing money back, which perhaps suggests the initial scheme needed more thought.”

Many of the claims were in the names of the peers themselves, rather than companies they own.

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