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Millionaire YouTube star Zoella slammed for using taxpayers' cash to furlough office manager at £5m business

MILLIONAIRE YouTube star Zoella has been criticised by an MP for using taxpayers’ money to furlough her office manager.

The online influencer, real name Zoe Sugg, is believed to have claimed thousands from the public purse despite doing some big-money deals during lockdown.

Zoella, 30, placed £25,000-a-year Holly Macey on the state bail-out programme designed to help companies in trouble in March.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen described it as “outrageous”, saying: “It seems very odd to me that a company which operates online should have made this claim as online businesses have done very well during lockdown.

“I would expect the department concerned to take a close look at the circumstances and if there’s been any kind of work done by this employee, the money should be paid back.”

In the last two weeks Zoella has posted Instagram ads to her 9.2m followers for Sky TV, hair care brand Function of Beauty and fashion giants Zara and All Saints.

Thought to be worth over £5million, she has also signed deals to promote BMW, GHD, Etsy and Spotify.

Zoella charges £20,000 for a sponsored post on Instagram and can fetch up to £25,000 for ads on her YouTube videos, where she has 16million subscribers.

Holly’s role in Zoella’s company AtoZ Creatives is believed to include organising parties and events, wrapping presents and taking Zoella's pet pug Nala for walks.

The 26-year-old featured in one of Zoella’s Instagram stories yesterday loading pumpkins into a van.

Zoella’s agent Maddie Chester told Mail Online: “I can confirm that the A-Z office manager Holly Macey has benefited from the government furlough scheme due to the A-Z office being shut since mid March.

“Zoe and Holly are very good friends and do a lot of activities outside of work such as pumpkin picking yesterday.”


Zoella, who is dating fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes, is director of several businesses including Zoe Sugg Ltd, Pippin Productions, ZS Beauty and ZS Lifestyle.

She lives in a four-storey mansion in Brighton and owns a fleet of cars including a Range Rover and a Mini Cooper.

Her website attracts seven million clicks a month and £50k worth of ads per year, while her debut novel Girl Online set records for the highest-ever first-week sales.

The furlough scheme, launched in March, pays up to 80 per cent of employees’ salaries up to £2,500 a month.

Since the end of July, businesses have been rewarded with £1,000 for every employee they brought back to work.

More than 80,000 firms have since returned £215million claimed under the scheme.

John O’Connell, from the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “Lockdown had a massive impact on the economy and now every penny counts. Some businesses have repaid the support offered to them by taxpayers.

"They should serve as an example for other firms that have come through the past year in rude health.”

Victoria Beckham reversed a decision to furlough 30 staff at her fashion label in April after a public outcry.

Sir Phillip Green also apologised over plans to exploit a furlough loophole and rake in millions while axing 300 staff.

The business tycoon's retail empire begged for forgiveness last night after being branded "morally and ethically bankrupt" by its own employees.

Earlier this year, Zoella was rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for plugging an ASOS dress on Instagram without stating she was being paid.

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