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Reaction: Leeds bartenders dismayed over Stonegate furlough revelations

All employees interviewed for this article wished to remain anonymous.

By The Yorkshire Voice

Bar staff from across Leeds have voiced their disappointment to Yorkshire Voice after revelations published by the Sun last week about one of the UK’s leading pub chains – based abroad in a tax haven – using taxpayers’ money for the furlough scheme.

They showed that Stonegate Pubs, which owns seventeen venues across Leeds and more than 700 nationally, paid no corporation tax in the financial year of 2019, yet is using the government furlough scheme to pay its staff.

Stonegate is, according to its accounts on file with Companies House, based in the Cayman Islands.

Some of its best known chains include Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Yates.

One Stonegate employee said: “I feel sick knowing I work for a company like this.”

Another staff member told Yorkshire Voice that the decision to use the furlough scheme made them question whether they wanted to work for Stonegate again.

Screenshot taken from Companies House

In 2019, Stonegate declared profits of £100m after paying what it calls “exceptional items”.

According to these accounts, “exceptional items” include staff bonuses and the purchasing of new venues.

Screenshot taken from Companies House

However, not every employee who spoke to us was disappointed by the decision.

One employee told Yorkshire Voice that they did not feel the company would be able to survive very long without the furlough scheme and that staff would have been laid off if Stonegate had chosen not to use the government scheme.

They did, however, admit that they thought Stonegate should be contributing alongside the furlough scheme.

One worker was quick to pay tribute to the furlough scheme, adding: “Without the government scheme, we wouldn’t be getting paid; we rely on the furlough scheme for our wage.”

As of 2019, Stonegate employed over 14,000 staff, the vast majority of whom have been furloughed.

The government scheme, which pays 80% of the wages of furloughed workers, up to £2,500 a month, could end up covering around eight million workers, according to the Resolution Foundation thinktank.

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