A LAW firm has warned new starters could go up to eight months without pay as the Government announced it would be extending its furlough scheme for four months.

Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons today that the job-retention scheme would continue until the end of October but employers will be asked to bear a share of the cost of paying staff up to 80 per cent of wages while they are not working.

The Conservative politician said the scheme was "world leading" having supported 7.5 million jobs with spending totalling £10 billion so far.

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But New Starter Justice, a 10,000-strong campaign group started during the coronavirus crisis to appeal for further support for new starters, has said there is a "glaring loophole" in the furlough scheme.

A spokeswoman for the campaign argued that the lockdown extension would leave new starters without any income for eight months.

She said: "An estimated 1.5 million people started jobs after February 28 - the initial cut-off date for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

"Despite having contractual proof of employment, their employers are unable to furlough them due to the cut-off date, and many have now endured two months with no income."

In response to the latest announcement, New Starter Justice is reiterating its call for the inclusion of "anyone with contractual proof of employment starting after February 28" in the furlough scheme.

The group is also asking that "all employers are given the financial support they need to retain new starters so that they can start their roles, as planned, as soon as it is safe to do so".

Organiser Becky Wells said: "“Despite reports last week that the scheme was winding down, Rishi Sunak’s announcement today has galvanised us to keep fighting.

"We have seen some very desperate situations among our members from two months without income—imagine what those situations will look like in October if we don’t receive support. We are taxpayers with proof of employment. The government needs to help us."

New Starter Justice will be sending an open letter to Rishi Sunak tomorrow, which has been signed almost 8,000 times - with 53 cross-party MPs having penned their names.

  • At The Argus, we are championing the work of traders during the coronavirus pandemic as part of our #BackingSussexBusiness campaign. We are always interested to hear how the community is coming together in this crisis. If you know of a local business battling to do all it can in these tough times and/or offering support to the local community, please get in touch at laurie.churchman@theargus.co.uk and rose.lock@theargus.co.uk.