Billionaire slammed for using taxpayers’ cash to furlough staff at £3,500-a-night luxury country club – The Sun

 A BRITISH billionaire was slammed for using taxpayers’ cash to furlough staff at his luxury £3,500-a-night celebrity country club.

Jon Hunt, said to be worth £1.4billion, has used the government scheme at the posh Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk, a collection of exclusive-use country houses and cottages.

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Described as a “Soho Farmhouse on steroids” it is a haunt of trendy fashionistas like Daisy Lowe, Jack Guinness and Alexa Chung, with one property commanding £3,572-a-night to stay in.

A spokesman for Mr Hunt confirmed the property tycoon was using taxpayers’ cash to pay 25 workers – as sources criticised him for not using his own reserves.

One blasted the Foxtons estate agency founder as an “absolute disgrace” after he fortunately sold the business for a reported £360milliion just before the 2007 property crash.

The source told The Sun: “It’s a scandal. This is a billionaire wanting taxpayers’ to bail him out. It’s terrible. I’m sure this is not what the scheme was designed for.

“This is such an exclusive place. Celebrities go there. He’s worth so much money.

“It’s a terrible situation. People are very angry and upset. This is taxpayers’ money.

"He should be helping out and reaching out of his own pocket in such a terrible national crisis. He could afford it.”

FURLOUGH 'SCANDAL'

Cleaners, maintenance and estate workers were furloughed on March 23 by the Hunt, famed for selling Britain’s most expensive car, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO ,for a reported £20m, in 2013.

A spokesman for Wilderness Reserve said: “Wilderness Reserve is a hospitality business that has been ordered to close by the government due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“The Government has encouraged the use of the furlough scheme in order to keep workers employed in businesses that are unable to trade as usual during this period.

“There are 7.5m workers currently furloughed, with 935,000 businesses across the UK using the scheme. We have furloughed 25 of our staff.

“We are supporting those staff by topping up the funding from the government scheme to ensure that they receive their full salaries through this difficult period.”

The reserve is made up of laws, wetlands and forest, estate homes and farmhouses – including one with a moat – that are all available as holiday lets.

Its website states: “Wilderness Reserve – temporary closure. We are currently accepting bookings from Friday May 29.

“We are hopeful we will be able to open sooner if the government allows and are keeping the situation under review. If you are due to visit during this period, we will remain in contact.”

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