Comedian Steve Coogan has furloughed the gardener and housekeeper at his £4million country home, it was reported last night.
Both members of staff worked full-time at the Left-wing actor’s house in West Sussex – which has a swimming pool and a tennis court – before the virus struck.
They were unable to carry out their duties because of social distancing rules so the Alan Partridge star, 54, reportedly took advantage of the Government’s furlough scheme to put them on leave.
Coogan, worth an estimated £10million, played a billionaire fashion mogul in 2019 film ‘Greed’, but earlier this year claimed he was nothing like him.
He said: ‘I for everything,’ and took pop at other actors, claiming: ‘Iget anything for free.’
Steve Coogan, 54, as Alan Partridge, striking a comic pose by a flower bed. The actor’s mansion in the south of England is worth £4m and boasts a swimming pool and tennis court
Coogan, known for creating the Alan Partridge character, is worth around £10million and backed Labour’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn. Coogan’s house boasts a tennis court and swimming pool
The government’s furlough scheme covers 80 per cent of salaries up to £2,500 a month.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen slammed the millionaire comedian for getting taxpayers to fund his household staff’s wages.
What is the government’s furlough scheme?
Since March, the government has been bankrolling millions of furloughed workers’ wages.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Job Retention Scheme pays 80 per cent of an employees income, up to £2,500 a month.
It allows employees who cannot work in the lockdown to stay on a company’s payroll, rather than being laid off
The government has extended the scheme until October, but from August will ask firms to share the costs with the Treasury.
‘The furlough scheme is to protect businesses that are suspended and can’t operate during the pandemic,’ he told The Sun.
‘It’d be difficult to see how Steve Coogan’s earning potential has been diminished.’
A source told the paper that the two members of staff had been ‘gutted’ about not being able to get into work, ‘So Coogan took advantage of the furlough scheme while they’re unable to come in.’
Last week the Government’s new ‘Stay Alert’ guidance said that in-house workers could get back to business and socially distance where possible.
It comes after Victoria Beckham reversed her decision to furlough staff at her fashion firm despite her family being worth more than £300million.
A source told the newspaper Mr Coogan’s staff did not live at the house and it was not possible for their work to continue. ‘The workers are gutted they can’t make it in because of the coronavirus situation.
‘It was established it wouldn’t be possible to continue working with the social distancing measures in place. So Coogan took advantage of the furlough scheme.’
The Mancunian actor, who has appeared in a string of Hollywood movies, played a billionaire in the 2019 film Greed but has maintained the character is nothing like him.
His apparent decision to furlough staff is legal. He told reporters: ‘This is a non-story.’
Coogan’s representatives were approached for comment.
Coogan takes part in the BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief ‘Big Night In’ last month to raise money for those on the front line of the coronavirus crisis
Outside of showbusiness he is a noted car enthusiast and used to own a string of Ferraris.
Last August he dodged a driving ban for a speeding offence in his Porsche near his East Sussex home after successfully claiming that he could not film the next Alan Partridge series if he could not get behind the wheel.
Until last December he was dating TV host Mel Sykes, 49, but the couple split after a year.
He has one daughter, Clare, from a previous relationship with lawyer Anna Cole in the 1990s.
Since then he married Caroline Hickman in 2002 before their divorce in 2005, and he has dated models China Chow and Loretta Basey.
It was reported last month that Victoria Beckham, whose family is worth £335million, had planned to opt into the Government’s 80 percent scheme. It is understood the firm’s application would have cost taxpayers £150,000.
But after backlash Victoria Beckham Ltd said its board ‘now believe that with the support of our shareholders, we can navigate through this crisis without drawing from the furlough scheme.’
Millionaire comedian Coogan playing Alan Partridge
Coogan attends the 2019 British Academy Britannia Awards presented by American Airlines and Jaguar Land Rover at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 25, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California
Other celebrities including Jamie Oliver and Dragons Den star Peter Jones have also sought taxpayer assistance for their staff.
Oliver has furloughed 20 people, including chefs at his Jamie Oliver Cookery School.
And Mr Jones, worth £490million, reportedly furloughed 400 Jessops workers.
Sir Richard Branson and Sir Philip Green have also faced the wrath of the public for relying on government funds to pay their staff.
The government’s Job Retention Scheme was unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in March in response to the millions of people out of work because of the lockdown.
In an unprecedented package, he announced the Treasury would bankroll 80 per cent of an employees’ wages – up to £2,500 a month – if they were furloughed.
Since then the scheme has been extended until at least July after which some the Government will allow for some more flexibility on whether employer’s are obliged to keep paying furloughed staff.
But Mr Sunak has said the scheme will continue running under a reviewed format until at least October.
Lib Dem peer furloughs HIMSELF: Lord Fox is slammed for ‘double-dipping’ taxpayer cash after using government bail-out scheme for his private firm AND still claiming daily Parliament allowance
By Larisa Brown Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail
A peer was last night accused of ‘milking the taxpayer’ by furloughing himself while claiming the daily House of Lords allowance during lockdown.
Lord Fox, 62, has used the Government’s job retention scheme to pay himself as the owner of a strategic communications company.
But the Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesman for business has also chosen to take the £162 daily allowance for his work in the Lords, which is being conducted by Zoom during the lockdown.
In addition, he also has a £100,000 cash pot in his company and owns two homes worth more than £2million, according to the Telegraph.
A peer was last night accused of ‘milking the taxpayer’ by furloughing himself while claiming the daily House of Lords allowance during lockdown. Lord Fox, 62, has used the Government’s job retention scheme to pay himself as the owner of a strategic communications company
Asked whether having his private income paid by the state as well as taking the Lords’ stipend was greedy, he told the newspaper: ‘I don’t think conflating the two is even logical.
‘It’s what many companies are doing, which is furloughing their employees. If HMRC has thought it was ineligible for me to have applied for that, then they would have said so.’
His move was slammed by MPs who said he should give the money back.
Tory MP Robert Halfon said: ‘It is incredible that, when my residents in Harlow are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, this peer seems to want to milk the taxpayer at both ends, for every penny – both through the Lords allowance and the furlough scheme.
‘The Chancellor needs to nip this in the bud and make sure this is not allowed. The least he could do is pay the furlough money back.’
He said the furlough scheme was never meant to be for ‘wealthy Lords’.
Tory MP Robert Halfon said: ‘It is incredible that, when my residents in Harlow are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, this peer seems to want to milk the taxpayer at both ends’
Sir Iain Duncan Smith added: ‘It’s a bit rum, furloughing yourself while being a legislator.’
Lord Fox is the owner and sole employee of Vulpes Advisory.
Accounts filed with Companies House show Lord Fox has access to more than £100,000 cash in his Vulpes bank account, according to the newspaper.
He furloughed himself and has already received his first month’s wage subsidy, of about £1,000, from the Government, it was claimed.
Asked why he did not first use the £100,000, he said: ‘I’m hoping to tide the business over, I’m hoping to relaunch it properly when the scheme… when the virus lifts.’
Lord Fox has a five-bedroom house in Windsor.
He reportedly bought the house in 1995 for £280,000 and it is now estimated to be worth up to £1.89 million.
He also has as a second home in east London.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith added: ‘It’s a bit rum, furloughing yourself while being a legislator’
He sits on the Lords economic affairs committee and it has held four hearings over the past month. Lord Fox will receive £648 for those hearings.
Lord Fox is also able to claim the daily allowance for his work as the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Asked how many days in total he has claimed the Lords allowance for during lockdown, Lord Fox said he did not know the exact number but added: ‘It works out as quite a lot of work.’
Asked whether he plans to repay the furlough money, he told the newspaper: ‘That’s not something I’ve given much thought to at the moment, because I’ve been working about 14 hours a day on legislation.’
Lord Fox was awarded a peerage in 2014 and founded Vulpes Advisory in 2016.
Asked why he had furloughed himself, he said: ‘Because the business is absolutely moribund,’ adding: ‘My only customer before the lockdown was a company called Spectris.’
The Liberal Democrat party declined to comment.