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Christopher Fox, who is the frontbench spokesman for business, has furloughed himself from his strategic communications company Vulpes Advisory, of which he is the owner and sole employee. But the Lib Dem peer has continued to claim the £162 daily allowance for his work in the Lords, which is being conducted by Zoon during the lockdown. Lord Fox, who has been described as “greedy” for taking two lots of taxpayers money, is understood to have at least £100,000 in his company accounts, according to the Telegraph.
Last night the newspaper revealed Lord Fox as the first Parliamentarian known to use the furlough scheme to pay himself.
MPs have called for the Lib Dem peer to pay the money back, as they accuse him of exploiting the Government’s job retention scheme which was put in place to help save millions of people from being left without work and pay during the coronavirus pandemic.
The furlough scheme covers 80 percent of salaries up to £2,500 a month.
Accounts filed with Companies House show Lord Fox has access to more than £100,000 cash in his Vulpes bank account.
But instead of using the money to weather the health crisis, he decided to furlough himself and receive taxpayers money.
Tory MP Robert Halfon hit out at the peer, and said: “It’s 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.”
Mr Halfon added the furlough scheme “was never meant to be for wealthy Lords”.
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Sir Iain Duncan Smith responded to the news, and said: “It’s a bit rum, furloughing yourself while being a legislator.”
But Lord Fox has defended the move, and when asked if using both the furlough scheme and the Lords allowance was “greedy”, he said: “I don’t think conflating the two is even logical.
“It’s what many companies are doing, which is furloughing their employees.
“If HMRC had thought it was ineligible for me to have applied for that, then they would have said so.”
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He also defended the decision not to use the £100,000 cash available to him, and said he plans to relaunch the company at the end of the outbreak.
The Lib Dem peer said: “I’m hoping to tide the business over, I’m hoping to relaunch it properly when the scheme… when the virus lifts.”
As well as owning the PR company, Lord Fox also owns two homes worth more than £2million.
He lives in a five-bedroom house in Windsor, which is estimated to be worth up to £1.89million, and owns a second home in east London.
Lord Fox said he hasn’t had time to consider paying back the furlough money.
He said: “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.”
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.”
Lord Fox was awarded a peerage in 2014 and founded Vulpes Advisory in 2016.
Daily Express.co.uk has approached the Lib Dems for comment.
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