Amazon identified as mystery £250,000 donor to UK bookshops

Amazon, the internet retail giant vilified for years as public enemy No 1 to booksellers, has been revealed as the surprise mystery benefactor that donated £250,000 to help UK bookshops weather the coronavirus pandemic. Read more: Amazon identified as mystery £250,000 donor to UK bookshops

Amazon identified as mystery £250,000 donor to UK bookshops

Amazon, the internet retail giant vilified for years as public enemy No 1 to booksellers, has been revealed as the surprise mystery benefactor that donated £250,000 to help UK bookshops weather the coronavirus pandemic.

With booksellers around the country forced to close their doors to respect social distancing measures implemented by the government, a fundraiser was launched one month ago by Gayle Lazda from the London Review Bookshop, Picador’s Kishani Widyaratna and Daunt Books publisher Zeljka Marosevic to help them survive. Initially setting out to raise £10,000, with donations coming in from authors including Candice Carty-Williams, Adam Kay and David Nicholls, the funding target was quickly raised to £100,000, as organisations including Penguin Random House and the Booksellers Association weighed in.

On Wednesday, the Bookseller reported that a mystery donor had added another £250,000 to the fund for booksellers in hardship, bringing the total fund to just under £380,000. David Hicks, chief executive of the Book Trade Charity, which is administering the fund, told the Bookseller that “the donor just wants to say they are committed to independent bookshops as part of a mixed bookselling economy and they want to show some support”.

On Thursday, Hicks told the magazine that he had been given Amazon’s blessing to go public with its identity in order to quash mounting speculation over who the donor might be.

“The additional boost … has put us in a very strong position to help even more booksellers suffering hardship from this crisis. We all recognise the value of bookshops to local communities, the trade, as well as the economy, and it is a privilege to represent such a broad cross-section of the industry,” he said.

The identity of the benefactor may be a bitter pill for many booksellers to swallow, as Amazon has long been cited as a primary reason for the closure of many bookstores. While the fundraiser’s organisers initially described the donation as “truly astonishing”, they were less complimentary on Thursday.

“I’m glad that this money is going to a good cause, but there is no greater threat to high-street bookselling than Amazon, and their labour practices are a well-documented disgrace,” wrote Lazda on Twitter.

“I know that there is a huge strength of feeling against Amazon among booksellers, and that the horrible irony of this donation will be lost on none of us, but I hope it won’t stop any of us supporting the work of the Book Trade Charity, and applying to the fund if you need it,” she added.

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Amazon identified as mystery £250,000 donor to UK bookshops

Source : Business Matters More   

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More than 380,000 firms apply for government scheme to pay 2.8m furloughed staff

More than 380,000 businesses have applied for a government scheme to pay the wages of 2.8 million furloughed workers, Business Secretary Alok Sharma has revealed. Read more: More than 380,000 firms apply for government scheme to pay 2.8m furloughed staff

More than 380,000 firms apply for government scheme to pay 2.8m furloughed staff

More than 380,000 businesses have applied for a government scheme to pay the wages of 2.8 million furloughed workers, Business Secretary Alok Sharma has revealed.

Firms impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are able to claim for government cash to pay 80% of each employee’s wages, up to £2,500 per month.

Appearing before a House of Commons committee on Thursday, Mr Sharma told MPs that – as of 4pm on Wednesday – the coronavirus job retention scheme had received 387,000 applications covering 2.8 million employees.

He also disclosed that, as of 19 April, nearly 500,000 firms had received grants of £10,000 or £25,000 – distributed by local councils – totalling just over £6bn.

The government is also guaranteeing 80% of each loan from lenders to small and medium-sized businesses.

Mr Sharma told the business, energy and industrial strategy committee that, so far, 16,600 firms had secured such a loan – totalling £2.8m.

There have been around 36,000 completed applications to date to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), according to UK Finance.

More than half the total number of loans have been approved in the past eight days alone.

The government has faced criticism for the slow roll-out of the loans scheme for smaller businesses.

It has previously been estimated that 300,000 CBILS enquiries have been made, with Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband highlighting how there are a total of nearly six million small and medium-sized firms in the UK.

Commenting on the latest CBILS figures, Mr Miliband said they showed the scheme was “in no way equal to the scale of economic distress facing our firms”.

“Providing 16,000 loans in four weeks in a country of nearly six million SMEs is not good enough,” he added.

“In an average week last year there was more than £1bn of new SME lending.

“The fact that CBILS are now only at that level at a time of the worst economic emergency in our lifetimes is a clear sign that they are inadequate.

“The government must recognise the scheme is not working adequately and change it urgently.

“The future of many of our small firms depends on its decisions.”

Meanwhile, at a separate Commons committee, it was confirmed there had been 1.5 million new claimants for Universal Credit welfare payments in the six weeks to 12 April.

Department for Work and Pensions minister Will Quince revealed that, in one single day, there had been 110,000 claims when the department usually receives 55,000 per week.

However, he said there had since been a “significant slowdown” in the number of claims.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, an independent think tank, is to publish new findings that claim UK unemployment could reach more than six million by the end of next month – a rise of around five million workers.

Read more:
More than 380,000 firms apply for government scheme to pay 2.8m furloughed staff

Source : Business Matters More   

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