Somerset contractor Keeps Furlough cash

Skanska, the contractor that until May looked after Somerset’s roads has paid a £35m dividend to its shareholder. That is according to accounts filed at Companies House. The British holding company Skanska plc sold the business that looked after Somerset Highways to M Group Services. That was at the end of April this year.

According to the accounts to 31 December 2020, Skanska plc paid dividends totalling £35m to shareholders. The main shareholder of the company is its Swedish parent company. So far so “nothing to see here.”

However it also emerged in an article published by Construction News, that the company received £4m from the taxpayer. That was money the company claimed to furlough staff. Whilst perfectly legal, given the large profits the group has been making in the UK, it does not look good. According to Construction News the company claimed a further £300,000 in the four months to April 2021.

In summary Skanska companies were making many of their profits on contracts to provide public services. Including the contract to maintain and repair Somerset roads. The group also held contracts with Highways England, Crossrail and the Ministry of Defence among many others.

It appears that Skanska has been making large profits from the taxpayer by providing public services. On top of which it is claiming furlough money, money it clearly does not need, and refusing to repay it. Other construction companies such as Balfour Beattie and Galliford Try also claimed furlough money. However unlike Skanska, they have committed to repay the money when they are next able to pay a dividend.

And add into the mix the poor performance of the contract with Somerset County Council. Something which we reported on earlier this year. Somerset tax payers may feel they have been given a pretty rough ride. And for once that is not because of the poor job done filling in potholes.

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