The government is refusing to close a loophole in its coronavirus bailout that has left thousands of workers without cash.

Any full- or part-time worker can have 80% of their wage paid by the state, up to £2,500 a month, under a groundbreaking "furlough" scheme.

But the scheme does not apply to people who started a new job after the cut-off date of February 28.

Instead, the only way for them to be "furloughed" is to be rehired to their previous job and then be put on the scheme. Whether this happens is up to the old employer.

This stops well short of demands by thousands of workers who said the date of February 28 must be extended.

The Mirror understands the government is resisting calls to extend the scheme beyond February 28 because of practical difficulties.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a groundbreaking furlough scheme - but it doesn't help everyone

To prevent fraud, officials decided to capture people's earnings in February - the most recent full month - to work out how much they are owed through the scheme.

Senior officials are understood to be aware of the loophole, but believe there had to be a cut-off date for the Treasury to snapshot people's earnings.

Officials appear to accept that any cut-off date would have imperfections, but not every business or individual job in the country can be saved.

A Treasury spokesman said: "Obviously it’s important to have proof that individuals are connected to the firms that are furloughing them."

Tony MacDonald, 31, from Dundee, said the decision was "so disappointing".

Tony MacDonald, 31, from Dundee, said the decision was "so disappointing"

Tony missed the scheme by three days after leaving his job of three years to start a new role as a fire safety engineer.

He and wife Logan, 30, have been left high and dry unable to support children Alfie, 12, and Aoife, 4, on her midwife's salary alone.

Tony told the Mirror: "The new guidelines said your old employer can take you back but mine isn't budging on that.

"They're struggling enough as it is at the moment.

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"To take someone on who wasn't wanting to be with the company anyway - it doesn't make financial sense to them."

There is an exception for the furlough scheme for people who were made redundant after March 1. They can be rehired to their old firm and put on the furlough scheme.

The money is still expected to arrive with firms by the end of April, but Treasury officials hope they will act sooner than that by using the cash from a VAT holiday.