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Trump claims £3.3m in furlough payments for Scottish resorts

12.41pm 28th December 2021 - Corporate - This story was updated on Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resorts claimed more than £3.3m in emergency support from the UK government to help furlough staff during the Covid pandemic.

According to a report in The Guardian, company accounts for the former US president’s resorts at Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen show his businesses shed 273 jobs due to the Covid crisis last year, while also claiming £2.8m in furlough support.

Other government data shows that further claims were made by both venues this year while the UK government’s job retention scheme was still in place.

The BBC reported those claims, not yet included in the Trump companies’ accounts, were worth between £520,000 and £1.3m, leading to a total claim for furlough funding of between £3.3m and £4.1m overall.

According to The Guardian, the furlough support could have implications for a US House of Representatives investigation into whether Trump has broken a clause in the constitution which prohibits US presidents from seeking and receiving financial rewards or benefits from foreign governments.

Donald Trump at Trump International Golf Links

The resorts reported heavy losses due to their enforced closure during the lockdowns. The headline loss for Turnberry was £3.4m, after a £321,000 profit in 2019, and £1.3m at Trump International Scotland, compared to a loss of £1.1m in 2019.

The accounts show that loans from the former president’s own funds and the holding company he controls to both businesses now total £159m. The accounts report the assets – the land, buildings and equipment – at Turnberry are worth £86m, and £32m for the Aberdeenshire resort.

The accounts show that the number of employees at Turnberry fell from an average of 541 in 2019 to 289 in 2020. At the much smaller Aberdeenshire resort, average staffing dropped from 84 posts to 63 last year.

In a foreword to the accounts, Trump’s son Eric, who was given day-to-day control of the businesses after his father was elected president, said the UK government’s cash was helpful because it helped retain staff, many were later rehired.

“Government support was helpful to retain as many jobs as possible, however uncertainty of [sic] the duration of support and the pandemic’s sustained impact meant that redundancies were required to prepare the business for the long-term effects to the hospitality industry,” he said.

The Guardian reported last year that Trump’s Scottish resorts were also expected to receive property tax rebates of nearly £1m because business rate payments for hospitality and tourism businesses had been suspended due to the pandemic.

The US Congress passed legislation prohibiting businesses in which Trump holds a stake from receiving any Covid-related bailout funds. Under Scottish and UK legislation, his Scottish resorts were given the same rights to claim as any other comparable business.

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