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Further calls for furlough scheme extension after Tories reject Labour's bid for one

MORE pressure was piled on the government today to offer financial furlough support for workers in coronavirus-hit sectors beyond October.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s call to extend the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) comes after Tory MPs voted down Labour’s proposal to do so in the Commons this week.

A temporary furlough scheme is needed to avoid a surge in unemployment across sectors such as hospitality, retail, and beauty when the current JRS ends on 31 October, the foundation warned.

Around 40 per cent of minimum-wage workers are at high risk of losing jobs because of the virus, compared to less than 1 per cent of workers who earn more than £41,500 a year, the charity’s research suggests.

The expected rise in unemployment is likely to hit young people, women, disabled people and those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds particularly, the JRF said.

Dave Innes of the JRF said: “Many workers who were already at risk of being swept into poverty may be especially vulnerable over the coming months.

“The government faces tough choices about how to best support businesses to protect jobs and create new ones, but now is not the time to be withdrawing support for businesses who are still feeling the effects of social distancing.”

The charity also called for a new deal for adult education to boost skills.

The Trades Union Congress said that continuing to keep people afloat amid the pandemic is essential for economic recovery.

General secretary Frances O’Grady pointed to this month’s data which shows Britain’s GDP rising 6.6 per cent in July, but which remains 11.7 per cent lower than February’s figure.

She said: “The government must not throw away the good work of the [JRS] by ending it too abruptly.

“We need a successor scheme for businesses with a viable future that need support for longer.”

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