London-based housing association Catalyst has said it will repay all of the furlough funds it has received to pay employees during lockdown.
A total of 101 staff were placed on furlough using the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme but Catalyst said it could not in good faith benefit from the scheme which was designed to prevent redundancies, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
The organisation has pledged to pay back £280,000 and said it will not make any further claims for outstanding available funds, which was due to total around £550,000.
Ian McDermott, chief executive of Catalyst, said: “The government was clear that this was taxpayers’ money designed to ensure employers who could not afford to pay wages could protect the employment of as many people as possible rather than make mass redundancies.
“With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that we did not fall into that category and would not have made anyone redundant as a consequence of lockdown.
“It would be entirely wrong to keep the money and use it for a different purpose. As an ethical organisation we believe it is essential that we play our part as a responsible good corporate citizen and repay the money.
“At the beginning of this crisis we said we wanted to continue to employ as many people for as long as possible; that still stands, and our financial position means we have been able to do that over these last few months which I know have been tough for many.
“The ability to give this money back reflects the ongoing commitment of colleagues and their hard work across Catalyst over the last few months.”
There are still 25 Catalyst employees on furlough, many of whom are shielding.
Catalyst, a member of the G15 group, manages over 32,000 homes in London and the home counties.