Highland estates and multi-millionaires bank £1m of taxpayers’ money from Covid-19 grants

Primary Author or Creator:
Ally Tibbitt
Additional Author(s) / Creators
Billy Briggs
The Ferret
Date Published:
Type of Resource:
Fact check
Fast Facts

The data obtained by The Ferret shows that around £178m was paid to more than 8,000 recipients by Highland Council. 

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The grants were designed to keep firms affected by the pandemic afloat whilst they could not trade. There is no suggestion that any grants were wrongly obtained.

However, Tax Justice UK expressed concern that at least one company in receipt of taxpayers’ money was based abroad, arguing that “legally-binding” conditions should have been imposed on grants. 

Labour MSP Paul Sweeney described some of the grants as “eye watering sums of money” and argued that conditions should be attached to the “awarding of public funds to large, profitable businesses”.

In reply, companies pointed out they were major employers and that the grants helped them survive the pandemic. Highland Council told The Ferret that all grants met the eligibility criteria.

Most of the recipients were small businesses, each typically receiving a median payment of £17,500. But some firms received much larger sums.