Trouble department store Debenhams cost the taxpayer £40.5m via the coronavirus furlough scheme, according to records.
Debenhams is set to close down after administrators were unable to find a buyer, putting around 12,000 jobs at risk in the latest blow to the struggling UK high street.
According to the administrator’s progress report complied by FRP Advisory, Debenhams cost the taxpayer £40.5m after taking advantage of the furlough scheme during the coronavirus pandemic.
The furlough scheme was designed to prevent mass redundancies, as business income suffered because of coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.
At the start of November the scheme had cost the government some £41.4bn, and supported more than nine million jobs since its launch.
Administrators FRP Advisory announced on Tuesday that they have commenced a wind-down of Debenhams UK, while continuing to seek offers for all or parts of the business.
The news followed JD Sports pulling out of talks to buy the department store chain following the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s high street empire Arcadia, which was a major concessions operator in Debenhams.
Debenhams will continue to trade through its 124 UK stores and online to clear its current and contracted stocks.
If no alternative offers are received for the firm, the UK operations will close.
A spokesperson for Debenhams said it had used the furlough policy correctly.
“Debenhams used the scheme in exactly the way it was intended, which was to preserve jobs while stores were closed in line with government regulations.”