Struggling structural steel firm Cleveland Bridge claimed up to £250,000 in furlough payments in the months leading up to its collapse, government records show.
Records from HMRC show that Cleveland Bridge UK Limited, which employs 221 people, claimed between £125,005 and £250,000 in furlough payments to cover staff who were unable to work for the five months between December 2020 to April 2021.
HMRC data shows that between £25,001 and £50,000 per month had been claimed by Cleveland Bridge UK, however the employment support was not enough to save the business.
Details of furlough claims prior to December have not been published, while claims made after April have not yet been released by HMRC. It is not known if Cleveland Bridge applied for any other coronavirus support from the government.
Cleveland Bridge has been known as one of the leading specialists in its field, working on major projects such as Wembley Stadium, the Queensferry Crossing, the Shard and also as one of the original co-designers of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Martyn Pullin, David Willis, and Iain Townsend of specialist business advisory firm FRP were appointed as Joint Administrators to Cleveland Bridge UK on Thursday morning. Staff had been informed of potential job losses on Wednesday and told to collect personal items from the head office on Yarn Road.
Administrators have said that the business had been severely impacted by delays to projects world wide due to the pandemic.
Since 2000, Cleveland Bridge has been part of the Al Rushaid Group – a Saudi Arabian industrial conglomerate. However, the UK business’ finances have been severely impacted by delays to projects in the UK and internationally as a result of the pandemic, and requires significant further investment.
The joint administrators will now market the business for sale and engage with Cleveland Bridge’s clients to discuss continued support on live projects. The administrators will engage with staff and decisions will be made on any necessary redundancies.
Martyn Pullin, Partner at FRP, said: “Cleveland Bridge UK has been a flagbearer for cutting edge British engineering for more than a century. But no business is immune to the far-reaching impact of the pandemic, which has delayed major infrastructure projects around the world and put significant financial pressure on the teams behind them.
“CBUK is a business with a proud history and a formidable track record of engineering excellence. It also has great potential and should attract interest from the steel fabricants sector and other firms looking to break into the specialist bridge building market.
Unfortunately, without significant investment, the business will be wound up. That is why we’re calling on any interested parties to come forward.
“Regrettably, the business is unable to continue operating at its current capacity. We are urgently reviewing contracted work in progress to determine the shape of the business going forward.”
Cleveland Bridge is considered a leader when it comes to delivering precision-engineered steel components, with projects worldwide from the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul to the Emirates Towers in Dubai.
In a joint statement Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, and local MP for Sedgefield Paul Howell and Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: “Our number one priority right now is making sure that Cleveland Bridge’s 200 members of staff, and their families, are supported at this difficult and uncertain time, and we will be working with Darlington Council and Government to ensure they get whatever support they need.
“Cleveland Bridge is a business with an amazing heritage that has been responsible for some of the world’s most iconic structures, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Shard skyscraper in London.
“The skills of its workers are second to none and have led to the company having an enviable global reputation.