Britain’s richest men are taking taxpayers’ cash to furlough their staff.
Bus firm Optare is using the Government scheme despite owners, the Hinduja family building a £22 billion fortune.
Tory MP Peter Bone on Saturday night said he hoped the Hindujas would reflect on the decision.
He said: The scheme is a brilliant innovation by the Government to help firms who can’t afford to get through this difficult period.
It is not intended to help megarich individuals get taxpayers’ money.
They should not be furloughing staff, they should be paying for it.
Some of the 360 Optare employees have been furloughed. The North Yorkshire-based firm makes electric buses after ditching diesel ones.
Its parent company is Ashok Leyland, a flagship brand of the Indian conglomerate, Hinduja Group.
TOPPED RICH LIST
The family topped The Sunday Times Rich List last year with their fortune rising by another £1.3billion.
Hinduja Group employs 150,000 people worldwide with sales of nearly £40billion in 2018. It is chaired by Srichand Hinduja who lives in London along with brother Gopi.
Two other brothers Prakash and Ashok live in Geneva and Mumbai.
Gopi has a £250 million home on Carlton House Terrace, where the family occupies four connected homes bought from the Queen.
They bought the old War Office building in Whitehall for £350million in 2014 and are turning it into a hotel. The family’s business portfolio was started by their Mumbai-based dad Parmanand in 1914.
In 2001 Labour minister Peter Mandelson resigned amid claims he used his position to influence a British passport application for Srichand.
An independent inquiry later found no wrongdoing by Mr Mandelson or the Hinduja brothers.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) in March to help the business through the pandemic.
Firms can apply for the government to pay 80% of salaries up to £2,500 per month. More than six million people are signed up.
Victoria Beckham was forced into a U-turn for furloughing fashion firm staff despite her and husband David’s £355million fortune. Liverpool and Tottenham have also backtracked on using the scheme for their staff.
A statement from Ashok Leyland said on Saturday night: Optare is a subsidiary of Ashok Leyland Limited, a listed company incorporated in India, governed by an Independent Board.
Optare has been a loss-making company for many years for a variety of reasons, but its parent company has stood behind it to keep it going with an investment of more than £100 million to date.
That investment has allowed the company to create competitive and superior bus technology at a time when demand for buses in the UK has fallen by 50% and Government subsidies by 40%, irrespective of Coronavirus.
Even if the pandemic had not happened, Optare might have had to lose 360 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs in the UK. The company chose to carry on under Ashok Leyland’s stewardship instead.
Globally automotive manufacturers are seeking and securing Government support during this unprecedented time to ensure short-term survival.
Rather than resorting to plant closure resulting in the loss of jobs, Optare is using the JRS to ensure business continuity while in lockdown.
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