Billionaire Tory donor claims taxpayer’s cash for furlough despite £1m gift

A BILLIONAIRE Tory donor’s firm claimed tax­payers’ cash to furlough staff — as he gave £1million to the party.

Malcolm Healey claimed the money for some of his 4,000 Wren Kitchens staff as the pandemic raged.

Mr Healey owns Wren Kitchens' parent company West Retail Group


Mr Healey owns Wren Kitchens’ parent company West Retail GroupCredit: Alamy

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Official documents show the business claimed between £1million and £2.5million in January and between £100,000 and £250,000 in December — with many workers starting furlough last March.

Mr Healey, 76, who lives on a 12,000-acre estate named Warter Priory near York, and his brother Eddie own Wren Kitchens’ parent company West Retail Group.

Labour last night blasted the tycoon’s actions, saying he should have thought twice about landing taxpayers with the bill.

Shadow Cabinet Minister Rachel Reeves said: “In a year where billions of pounds of crony contracts have been handed to Tory friends and donors like boiled sweets, you’d really think the Government would get on top of behaviour like this.

“Sadly, saving taxpayer money rarely seems a priority when a Tory donor is involved.”

Billionaire Malcolm Healey claimed furlough for his staff despite being a Tory donor


Billionaire Malcolm Healey claimed furlough for his staff despite being a Tory donor

Mr Healey donated a total of £1million to the Conservative Party last year with £500,000 registered in December as staff were on furlough.

The scheme saw the Government pay up to 80 per cent of wages.

Records also show a donation of £500,000 was listed in November 2019, weeks before Boris Johnson’s landslide victory, and a total of more than £2million overall.

Mr Healey appeared with his brother in 70th position in the Sunday Times Rich List last year listed with a combined wealth of £2billion.

He was also in the top 50 taxpayers, with £26million in 2019/20.

There is no suggestion of wrong-doing on the part of Mr Healey or Wren Kitchens.

The company had so far declined to comment.

A senior government source said: “It would be completely wrong and unfair to deny workers access to furlough payments because of any links to a political party.

“The system is rightly open for all.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has overseen the furlough scheme


Chancellor Rishi Sunak has overseen the furlough schemeCredit: PA
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