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Britain’s biggest publisher Penguin Random House refuses to hand back £1million furlough cash

Britain’s biggest publisher Penguin Random House refuses to hand back any of the £1million furlough cash it received despite its profits soaring by a FIFTH during lockdown

  • Penguin Random House used furlough scheme between April and June last year
  • Publishing houses benefited from a reading renaissance during the lockdown 
  • Move likely to spark outrage as rivals like Bloomsbury have repaid the treasury 

Penguin Random House is refusing to give back any of the furlough money it was given by taxpayers, even though its profits soared by a fifth during Covid.

Britain’s biggest publisher tapped into the scheme between April and June last year and is thought to have received about £1m.

Publishing houses benefited from a reading renaissance during lockdown as people turned to books while they were cooped up at home.

The move is likely to spark outrage after its rivals including Bloomsbury and Pan Macmillan, as well as companies form other industries such as Tesco and Pets at Home, repaid the Treasury

The furlough scheme was started in April 2020 to support businesses that could not stay open or had to cut staff during lockdown

The furlough scheme was started in April 2020 to support businesses that could not stay open or had to cut staff during lockdown

One of Penguin Random House’s top UK bestsellers last year was Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land.

Penguin Random House, which has 1,800 staff in the UK, said: ‘As a responsible UK employer and taxpayer we have used the furlough scheme for its intended purpose: to protect jobs during this extraordinary time.’

A few employees such as receptionists at its head office are still furloughed, the Times reported.

But the move is likely to spark outrage after its rivals including Bloomsbury and Pan Macmillan, as well as companies form other industries such as Tesco and Pets at Home, repaid the Treasury.

Other major stores who vowed to hand back millions of pounds back to the Government include Primark, Ikea and Redrow and Barratt.

Penguin Random House says it has no plans to return any of the cash.

And healthy profits that are thought to add up to around £70m last year will also make the move more difficult to justify.

Rival publishers such as Hachette UK and Harper Collins reportedly had staff on furlough at the height of the pandemic.

But the latter said after a strong performance it did not claim any money from the scheme.

The furlough scheme was started in April 2020 to support businesses that could not stay open or had to cut staff during lockdown.

More than 1.3million employers claimed support which covers 80 per cent of an employee’s salary they can’t work up to £2,500 a month.

Companies are under no obligation to repay the taxpayer cash they receive through furlough but they have been urged to do so if they can afford it.

The furlough scheme is estimated to have cost around £55.7billion to date.

The Mail Online has contacted Penguin Random House for comment. 

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