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Who to Furlough and Who Not to Furlough? That is the Question.

The tricky business of who needs financial help

Many of us in the U.K will now be on the government’s furlough scheme. Most of us not even knowing what that word meant, up until less than a month ago.

Furlough is the term used to describe the agreement, whereby the government cover 80% of salaries for all workers signed up to the scheme, and with a maximum threshold of £2500. This is for all businesses who are not able to operate during the Covid 19 pandemic.

It is now in the hands of the government to divvy out a huge amount of money; completely and utterly unfathomable to even meander such a scenario, and not unwarranted to wonder if some of us should be claiming it.

It is after all for those who have ran into hardship. Businesses have obviously met financial disparity, when they no longer have the means to summon customers. There is no incoming revenue and therefore an inability to pay staff; most definitely at least in the long run. That is where the blanket term of furlough has issue, because there has been no disparity made; for who can claim and who cannot.

Of course, you are going to get businesses that have financial profits that far outweigh beyond a breath of the imagination- the humble linings of their staff salaries.

There have been a number of people and businesses that have already been put in the firing line. It is of no surprise that Victoria Beckham, premier league footballers, and Richard Branson have been scrutinised in this unprecedented curveball that has us all flabbergasted.

Early on, footballers were mentioned in the debate and thankfully, defended; but it did not quieten the question of how to deal with the vast division of the haves and the have nots. Who and who not to furlough? That is the question.

It is not difficult to find your mind settling upon the vast wealth that premier league footballers acquire each month, The Independent put salaries at £800,000 for a five week period.

However, this is questionable; with The Guardian putting it at £61,000 a week for the average Premier League player, only back in December, 2019.

The Independent article then goes on to say; that same £800,000 wage would pay, on average; what it would cost to pay all non-playing staff for the month. With The Independent’s figures being disputable; it implies a narrative against footballers, who are not alone in the high earning forecourts.

It is not fair to levy the salaries of those non-playing staff upon footballers; who are criminalised simply for earning big wages. They are not management, and they have worked for their position. It is also a shame The Independent carries on this narrative that has long been drawn out. Unsurprising; gives a fair round up on both sides of the field, and mentions the fair dilemma this situation imposes. If players were to sacrifice 30% of their pay-as has been suggested, this would mean a deficit for the tax payer.

Interestingly, if the average Premier League player earns £61,000 per week, and took a monthly pay-cut of 30% (£73,200); this would mean the tax man would lose out on £32,940. Let’s round that up to £33,000. Multiply this by 25 players in the average squad, and that is a loss of £825,000 for the tax man.

Basically, whether players take a cut or not: the bill resides on the tax man’s shoulders. So it is now the question of: who bears the burden then? If we want to protect our NHS and save lives, then the only diplomatic thing to do, would be for those who profit over a certain threshold, to foot the bill. You simply cannot stand by and condone a man who owns a football club, and is worth £2bn (Liverpool Football Club); to send the bill to the government instead.

This is difficult territory, I understand. Where exactly do you draw the line? I would hope though that it would not be a decision the government would have to make, but the individual/s themselves. Karren Brady-CEO of West Ham United, for example; has taken a 30% pay cut. She, her financial director, and the manager too.

It is also important to say that Liverpool United have backtracked their original decision; and have decided to pay staff out of their own pockets.

Unfortunately though, the backlash against those with big wallets continues. Victoria Beckham and Richard Branson are furloughing staff. Victoria Beckham, in particular taking major backlash with her decision. Footballers and footballers wives definitely do not get an easy wrap. Yet, there is a point to be made.

Whilst Victoria Beckham’s fashion empire will definitely have come under strain to say the least; despite her shops having to close, she still has online sales. The point being-her fashion business is already failing and has been for some years. It is reported that her husband has kept it afloat up until now, and unfortunately, it seems to now be the job of the tax man to do so.

It is unfortunate for Victoria Beckham to be in such a position-this is not the time you would wish to own anything; however maybe we have come to a crux in the road where the privileged now need to pay their part. I understand that in the long term, businesses cannot afford to pay their staff out of their own pocket; and maybe this is where the government scheme can come in. Even though there is a narrative ongoing-those in the entertainment industry being deemed most responsible, they do correlate. When you are a multi multi millionaire, you do have a responsibility. You effectively own a wealth that authorises power; and with great power, comes great responsibility.

Richard Branson has furloughed his staff at Virgin Atlantic, Duncan Bannatyne has not, and Simon Cowell is paying his staff himself. Yet we cannot compare a staff of 50 (Syco, Simon Cowell’s entertainment business) to a staff of 10,000 at Virgin Atlantic. Richard Branson is being hard hit though in the press; by asking the government for a 500m bailout and by his peers. Yet, there is speculation whether Bannatyne has furloughed his 3000 staff or not; reports differ. What is clear in all of this though, is that those who have benefitted from the system, now need to give back. You cannot have it both ways.

And the question of who and who not to furlough is at least a little clearer. I am sorry Victoria, this time, I am afraid you are not the tax man’s prerogative.