Dozens of pub workers in Dundee will not be getting paid today due to delays in furlough payments.
Jimmy Marr, who runs the Perth Road Pub Company, has been successfully claiming furlough payments from HMRC throughout the coronavirus lockdown.
However since 16 December 2020 no further furlough payments have come through and last week this delay meant he had to pay his 30 employees from the business’ cash flow.
That money has now also dried up, meaning there is no money to pay his staff on their February pay day.
“It is terrible” not being able to pay staff, says business owner
Mr Marr was forced to write a letter to all his employees to explain they would not be getting paid this week.
He said: “We were receiving furlough payments right up until the middle of December but then no payments came through.
“I contacted HMRC and they said it had been processed and they couldn’t understand how I had not been paid, but it could take up to 15 days.
“I called after the 15 days were up and was then told this had been changed to 40 days.
“Because there was no furlough payments the company had to pay staff from cash flow last Friday but we told HMRC it is very urgent because we don’t have the money to pay their wages again.
“Our business is pubs, and the pubs are closed so we have no income coming in.
“I have used up all the funds to pay wages already and because we used that money to pay out staff wages we have not been able to pay other overheads.
“It is unfair on the staff because it is not me who promised them it, it is the government.
“It is terrible and I feel bad because a lot of people have worked for me for a very long time and need their furlough money for their families.
“It is all in the hands of HMRC now.”
Issue over delays to furlough payments raised at Westminster
Chris Law, MP for Dundee West, raised Mr Marr’s plight at Westminster on Thursday 4 February to leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg during business questions.
He has also written to Jessie Norman MP, the minister responsible for HMRC, calling for an urgent resolution for Mr Marr.
He said: “HMRC promise that furlough claims will be processed quickly and efficiently, yet Mr Marr has been left waiting since mid-December.
“This is simply unacceptable.
“Business owners across our city and the country are acting responsibly by following necessary restrictions, but for those in the hospitality industry this severely hampers their income.
“Furlough was introduced precisely for this reason, so that otherwise successful businesses could survive lockdown and restrictions and employees could continue to be paid.
“I am extremely disappointed that Mr Marr, his business and his employees have in effect been left stranded over the last two months, and I hope that HMRC will reach a quick resolution.”
A spokesman for HMRC said: “The coronavirus job retention scheme was delivered at unprecedented pace and has protected more than 19,700 jobs across Dundee.
“We can’t comment on identifiable individuals or businesses.
“In some instances, HMRC may need to withhold payments while we carry out required checks, which we endeavour to complete as quickly as possible.”