The Workers Union is urging big business to hand back millions of pounds in furlough cash to the government.
The news comes as the cycling and motoring giant Halfords announced that they will pay back £10.7 million thanks to better than anticipated profits of between £90 and £100 million.
Halfords are not the only business to have discussed reimbursing the exchequer. As early as September last year, companies as diverse as Wimpey and Ikea pledged to pay back furlough money.
The news will come as a boost to Treasury mandarins, after recent figures revealed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was subsidising 4.7 million jobs by the end of January 2021.
The Workers Union on Big Business and Furlough
The fact that some companies have or will consider paying back furlough money is heartening indeed. It shows that far from projecting the heartless face of capitalism, there are business chiefs who understand the sacrifices that the nation has made – and will continue to make – in order to keep backing UK plc.
But this should not be the point where we roll up the flag. There are organisations across other sectors that will turn a pre-tax profit. Will they also make the responsible, moral choice and service the greater good of the nation?
Admittedly there’s little in the way of precedent for this. There’s no guidebook to navigate through the straits. And yet with chancellor Rishi Sunak set to extend furlough again, it seems likely that the strain on the public finances will continue. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that inflating the country’s borrowing could see services for working people pruned when all the subsidy schemes are wound up.
So we say to CEOs of profitable businesses: shake the hand that fed you and take a central role in boosting our country’s recovery.
The Workers Union – fighting for social justice, fighting for you