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Link to original content: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/thousands-miss-salary-support-scheme-starting-new-jobs-wrong/
Thousands miss out on salary support scheme for starting new jobs 'on the wrong day'

Thousands miss out on salary support scheme for starting new jobs 'on the wrong day'

MPs call for a fix to plug gaping hole in financial safety net

Thousands of people who have fallen through the cracks of the coronavirus job retention scheme are calling on the Government to urgently fix gaping holes in the bailout plan.

HM Treasury is in talks on a potential fix, Telegraph Money understands, after it emerged people starting new jobs or moving between jobs would be left out the programme. However, progress is being hampered by fears tampering with the system will open it up to abuse.

The Government will pay 80pc of an employee’s salary for at least three months, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, if their employer can no longer afford to keep them on. But workers are only eligible for these “furlough” grants if they were on the company payroll before February 28.

It means anyone who started just a day later does not qualify for the support. Many cannot now earn a living due to coronavirus and must join the long queue of people desperately applying for Universal Credit. But policymakers fear removing the arbitrary cut-off date will allow people posing as employees to take advantage of the generous support available.

Those affected say they are genuine employees who have paid into the system for years and are now being unfairly excluded simply for changing jobs at the wrong time.

MPs including shadow chancellor John McDonnell are pressing Rishi Sunak to act now. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said people were being unfairly “hung out to dry”, with “their dream jobs turning into nightmares”.

Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis encouraged those caught out to ask their former employer to rehire them and put them on furlough leave – an idea met with derision. Some of those that tried received scathing responses reminding them they had decided to leave the company voluntarily.

While it is possible for firms who have made redundancies to rehire staff and put them on the furlough scheme, the February 28 cut off still applies.

Jo Burton, 34, from Kent, works in events management – one of the sectors worst affected by the outbreak so far. She moved jobs at the beginning of March. Five days later she was made redundant.

“When the Government announced its job retention programme my new boss offered to hire me and put me on it straight away, but it then turned out I wasn’t eligible,” she said. “It’s now impossible for me to find work with the country in lockdown and the events industry how it is – no one is hiring.

“I have been employed and paying tax and National Insurance since I was 19. I have never claimed any benefits and I would have been in employment if it wasn’t for coronavirus. To be unable to access any financial support due to bad timing is totally unjust.”

Campaigners have suggested one solution could be using email chains and job contracts to prove they were genuinely moving from an old job to a new role after the payroll deadline. A petition calling for a remedy has already received tens of thousands of signatures

Are you missing out on support? Email us: harry.brennan@telegraph.co.uk

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