City of London Corporation claims £2.2m furlough cash

Lord Mayor

The City of London Corporation has claimed £2.2m from the Government’s furlough scheme.

The authority claimed the money for its commercial sections which had to close during lockdown.

According to data released under a Freedom of Information request, the council claimed £2.81m government furlough cash up to August for workers in cultural venues such as the Barbican Arts Centre and Tower Bridge which had to close during lockdown.

The government cash covered 429 workers. The Corporation employs 4,000 people.

The largest number furloughed  were people aged 21 to 30 which accounted for nearly half of those on furlough, with nearly a quarter aged 31 to 40.

The City was unable to provide details of how many staff in senior or junior roles were affected.

The Corporation was also unable to use venues including the Guildhall and Mansion for events. The Guildhall Art Gallery – home to such treasures as the recently restored La Ghilandata by Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the furlough scheme in March and initially offered 80% of an employee’s salary. The offer was capped at £2,500 a month, per worker.

At its peak in April 8.8m people were on furlough nationally. The scheme has recently been extended until the end of March next year.

Across London 856,300 people were on furlough in July, this had dropped to 557,400 by the end of August, the latest date when figures are available.

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The Government advised public bodies, including local councils, that they were not to use it apart from in exceptional circumstances such as having to close buildings.

In guidance issued in April the Government said: “In exceptional cases where Local Authorities need to close venues and furlough staff, it may be appropriate for them to claim funding through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”

A City of London Corporation spokesman said: “The vast majority of staff who have been furloughed are those who would normally work at cultural institutions which have had to run vastly reduced programmes during the pandemic, and events staff at various venues, which have also not been running due to Covid-19.

“We have a programme to redeploy staff where there’s a particular need for a role to be filled in a different department, and we look to do that in as many cases as possible.”

According to colleagues in the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme Powys County Council furloughed about 200 staff.

Normally 522,000 people work in offices, shops and the hospitality sector in the Square Mile.

Many of these have been able to work from home, whilst pubs, restaurants and non essential shops were closed during lockdown.

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