'Why was £215k in furlough cash given to one drag act called Le Gateau Chocolat?'

23 October 2020, 08:46

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

This is the moment Nick Ferrari challenged the Chief Secretary to the Treasury over £215,000 in furlough payments to drag act Le Gateau Chocolat.

Speaking to Stephen Barclay about the furlough scheme, LBC's Nick Ferrari pointed out that money had been made available to the theatre and arts industry.

Adding that one recipient is a "drag act called Le Gateau Chocolat," who "has been given £215,000. meanwhile, the 30 performers of Zippo's Circus get £600,000."

Nick challenged the Treasury boss, asking "why does one act qualify for almost a quarter of a million pounds?"

Mr Barclay said the money was allocated from the Treasury to the Arts Council who have been administering the scheme.

But Nick pointed out his question had not been answered, "let's be candid with one another, we're both grown men. I've asked you why one act, I don't expect you to know if this act Le Gateau Chocolat, last turnover submitted to Companies House was £107,000 for the year ending 2018."

"He's in receipt of £215,000 there are many theatres who have had not a penny, there are comedy clubs that are closing, and the Zippo's Circus with 30 employees gets £600,000."

Nick said to Mr Barclay, "let's not talk about all the money that's been made available, let's just answer who is in charge of giving that amount of money to one act?"

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury replied it was "the Arts Council England who allocate the scheme."

Nick questioned if the Treasury "monitor" the scheme, asking if he was happy that one act walked away with "a quarter of a million quid?"

When asked how he reacts to the example Nick Ferrari had given him Mr Barclay said it "sounds odd" adding he would "want to put the question to the Arts Council and those administering the scheme to better understand what has happened."

The exchange comes on the day a report from the National Audit Office, which praised civil servants for pushing through employment support schemes at high speed, said that, in their haste, they might have left some doors open for fraudsters.

The report added criminal gangs have syphoned off nearly £2 billion in taxpayer funds allocated to help businesses and furloughed workers.