The former US president’s Scottish golf firms have received as much as £575,000 from the UK job retention scheme over a two-month period.
The Trump Organisation has been slammed for claiming up to £500,000 in furlough claims for its flagship Scottish golf resort Turnberry, in Ayrshire, despite making redundancies. Trump’s other golf resort in Aberdeenshire also received between £35,000 and £75,000 in furlough claims.
While the furlough scheme has been operational since March last year, HMRC’s accessible data only shows payments claimed by employers during December and January.
The latest accounts for Turnberry golf resort, which predate the pandemic, show it employed an average monthly number of 541 staff in 2009, with an annual wage bill of £8.9 million.
Similarly Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf resort employed 84 staff, with a £1.9m wage bill.
In comparison over the two-month period available through HMRC the famous Gleneagles Hotel received between £1.5m and £3.5m in government support over the two-month period. However its headcount exceeds Mr Trump’s firms with an average monthly number of 661 full-time and 306 part-time staff in 2019 and an annual wage bill of £23.8m.
For the same period The Old Course in St Andrews in Fife received between £200,000 and £500,000 through the government’s job retention scheme. It had an average of 455 monthly employees in 2019, with a wage bill of £6.7m.
RTM union bosses called the payouts to the Trump organisation a ‘scandal’ and said axing staff while claiming furlough made a ‘mockery’ of the government’s scheme designed to ensure employers retain staff.
The union said at least 66 jobs had been lost at Turnberry since last summer, with some staff rehired on ‘inferior’ terms, so it has called for HMRC to investigate.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “It is clear to us that at the very least the principles of the job retention scheme appear to have been breached by the Trump Organisation and that should now be subjected to a detailed and forensic investigation by HMRC’.
He added “It’s a scandal and as we slowly emerge from lockdown, we are calling for any discarded staff to be re-engaged on decent pay and conditions, and for that same principle to be applied to new employees as well.”
Scottish Labour’s Colin Smyth said “It’s appalling that Trump has been getting bailouts from the UK Government on one hand while handing out redundancy notices to workers with the other”.
Walter Shaub, a former director of the US Office of Government Ethics said: “From the UK perspective, I can’t imagine the citizenry there would be any more happy than a majority of US citizens were about tax dollars propping up an American president’s business interests. It’s a disgrace to the very concept of democracy.”