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James Blunt uses taxpayers cash to furlough 25 staff at his Chelsea gastro pub

Singer James Blunt has claimed taxpayers cash through the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff, despite being worth an estimated £14.5million.

The You’re Beautiful musician, 46, is the sole director of pub business Blunt Trading Ltd, which has 25 employees.

He owns the gastropub the Fox and Pheasant in Chelsea, which like all bars is closed under the current coronavirus restrictions.

Publicly available documents released in January show Blunt Trading has some £430,000 in current assets.

And the former serviceman – who is as famous now for his Twitter comebacks as his music – recently laughed off claims his music royalties had run out on the social media site.

Tonight he refused to comment on the furlough arrangements when approached by MailOnline.

The singer, 46, is best known for You’re Beautiful and has an estimated £14.5million fortune. Pictured: Blunt in his pub ‘The Fox and Pheasant’ in 2019

He owns the gastropub the Fox and Pheasant in Chelsea, which like all bars is closed under the current coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Blunt in his pub in 2019

He owns the gastropub the Fox and Pheasant in Chelsea, which like all bars is closed under the current coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Blunt in his pub in 2019

The Fox & Pheasant is in Chelsea and took 18 months of renovations to complete

The Fox & Pheasant is in Chelsea and took 18 months of renovations to complete

James Blunt has joked he played You're Beautiful to kick everyone out of his London pub

James Blunt has joked he played You’re Beautiful to kick everyone out of his London pub

Blunt laughed off claims money from You're Beautiful had run out on Twitter last month

Blunt laughed off claims money from You’re Beautiful had run out on Twitter last month

A source said: ‘It is hard times for a lot of people in a lot of industries, pub and music included.

‘Because the names of the companies claiming furlough money are published, people can see some surprising firms on the lists.’

The Government puts out the names of employers who claim money from the job retention scheme, but until this month the amount claimed is not revealed.

It is not clear how many of the 25 workers at the company were furloughed and how many were kept on full employment.

A fortune of £14.5million is frequently mentioned when Blunt’s wealth is ever mentioned. 

He has a villa in Ibiza he bought 13 years ago from music sales, which have now reached 23 million albums.

Blunt joked in 2014 ‘I sing songs I hate every night, I still learn to love them, I just think about the money and it makes me smile.’

Recently he traded barbs with Piers Morgan after they both released a book over Christmas. His was called ‘How To Be A Complete and Utter Blunt: Diary of a Reluctant Social Media Sensation’.

Mike Tindall's company has been claiming furlough despite him being married to a member of the Royal Family which has huge personal wealth

Mike Tindall’s company has been claiming furlough despite him being married to a member of the Royal Family which has huge personal wealth

What is the furlough scheme?

Through furlough, workers can claim 80 per cent of their usual wages, up to a ceiling of £2,500 a month.

The employees are not allowed to work during this period, with employers only having to contribute national insurance and pension costs.

Businesses can use the scheme for employees for any amount of time and across any shift pattern, including furloughing them full time. 

For the self-employed, support grants are now available at 80 per cent of average profits. 

Furlough was replaced in September by the Job Support Scheme which is only for people working at businesses legally required to close. 

The Treasury estimates costs of a billion pounds a month for every million workers on the scheme. 

Official figures showed that the scheme, which ends at the end of April, had reached £46.4billion before Christmas.

On January 28 a fan wrote on Twitter: ‘Do you think James blunt has run out of his “you’re beautiful” money yet?’

The musician picked up on the message and replied ‘Hahahahahahahahahaha! No’.

He bought the Fox and Pheasant back in 2016 and he and his team spent 18 months renovating it before it opened in 2018.

In interviews publicising the bar, he revealed he had taken pictures of the toilets in Soho House Berlin so he could order the same ones in.

It used to be a football pub for nearby Chelsea, but was transformed into a more genteel food and drink establishment.

Blunt, who was at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, bought it after meeting an estate agent on a night out who had told him it was for sale.

His company is not the first surprising business to have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Mike Tindall’s firm has been claiming furlough money despite him being married to a member of the Royal Family which has huge personal wealth.

The former England rugby star, 42, who is married to the Queen’s granddaughter Zara, has a firm to manage his speaking engagements, which have dried up during the pandemic.

The company, Kimble Trading Ltd, has confirmed it claimed government aid. Accounts indicate it has only one member of staff.

He has denied personally being furloughed. 

A spokeswoman for Blunt declined to comment. 


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