Leith returned furlough money in October

Scottish independent shop Leith returned the cash it had claimed via the Job Retention Scheme in October.

Leith: works on the Scottish government's health campaign
Leith: works on the Scottish government's health campaign

Leith paid back government furlough cash it had claimed two months ago, after the agency's year was boosted by creating the Scottish government’s public-health messaging around Covid-19.

The agency, which is named after the district of Edinburgh in which it is based, holds the account for the devolved government’s public-health programme, Healthier Scotland, and delivered 17 mini-campaigns about the pandemic.

After the UK government announced the Job Retention Scheme, Leith placed eight of its 86 staff on furlough, with the agency topping up the 80% of their usual salaries paid under the initiative by the UK government to 100%. 

The employees rejoined the business at different stages, with the last back at work by August. After a successful year, the agency’s management decided to return the furlough money and it was paid back in October. 

Richard Marsham, group managing partner at Leith, said: “The eight members of staff that we put on furlough in March returned to work by August. We took the decision to pay back the money in October. On the back of being very busy with Scottish government work, it felt like the right thing to do.”

Leith's other big clients include Royal Bank of Scotland, Irn Bru-owner AG Barr, Network Rail, The Macallan and Famous Grouse. It also picked up global business for Japanese pharma company Kyowa Kirin and engineering company The Weir Group this year.

Mother London has also paid back the hundreds of thousands of pounds it claimed in furlough money after recovering from the initial financial pressure of the first lockdown and returning to profit.

None of the agencies in the big holding companies have publicly said they plans to return money claimed through the Job Retention Scheme.

Many supermarkets have announced plans to repay business rates relief designed to support retailers struggling through the pandemic. Tesco was the first to say it would return the money but was followed by Asda, Aldi, Morrisons, Lidl and Sainsbury’s.

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