As fashion brands work hard to win the PR race during the coronavirus crisis, Victoria Beckham has attracted unwelcome headlines for making use of the UK government's job retention scheme to pay most of the wages of furloughed staff.
The tone of the press reports has been that a woman with a family fortune of around £335 million shouldn't be using taxpayers' money. The wider fashion sector has attracted plenty of unwelcome headlines during the crisis so far, while other industries have largely gone under the radar.
Some 30 staff at Beckham’s fashion company have been furloughed with 80% of their salaries, up to a total of £2,500 per month each, being paid by the government. However, it's been reported that Victoria Beckham is also topping up their wages to cover the remaining 20%, although there is no legal obligation for her to do that.
The staff currently affected by the furlough measures include those at her temporarily-closed shop in Mayfair and employees in marketing and customer services. The company was loss-making in its last financial year and hasn’t actually made a profit since being founded in 2008.
Beckham’s use of the job retention scheme led to a rant on TV by commentator Piers Morgan and an on-air spat between him and co-host Susanna Reid. Morgan questioned why the state should “fund their loss-making vanity project” while Reid said the move protected jobs.