BORIS Johnson has yet again come under pressure to extend the furlough scheme, with his political rivals warning him about rising levels of unemployment.

The Job Retention Scheme is due to finish by the end of next month, and without the Government propping up the payroll, firms across the UK are likely to let staff go.

It was another dismal day for those who work in hospitality. Yesterday, Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn and Beefeater, warned that 6000 staff could lose their jobs.

The company blamed the cuts on a slump in hotel guest numbers.

Currently, 27,000 of their staff members are being supported by the furlough scheme.

JD Wetherspoon has warned its 1000 staff working at airport venues that almost half of them could lose their jobs because of the fall in tourism.

The company told staff that up to 450 people working at pubs in Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports could be made redundant.

Currently, nearly half a million Scots are supported by the furlough scheme.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford pleaded with the Prime Minister to keep it going beyond October.

“The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have rigidly refused to extend furlough, but we all know that U-turns and mixed messaging have come to define this Government.”

He added: “The Prime Minister has changed his advice this morning on working from home. It is now time to change his mind on furlough as well.

“So today I have one question, and it is a question that 61,000 employees in Scotland are asking. Prime Minister, they deserve certainty and they deserve an answer.

“Will this Government now save those jobs and extend the furlough scheme beyond October? Prime Minister, do not throw workers on the scrap heap, through no fault of their own.”

Johnson insisted the Government’s objective was to “keep businesses going and to keep the economy moving as much as we can.”

He added: “We will continue to send that support throughout the whole of the UK, to put our arms around the whole of the workforce of the UK and to protect jobs and livelihoods, but what we also want to see is those businesses continuing and jobs being created.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross asked for a “guarantee” that the Prime Minister would “continue to support Scottish employers and workers in areas affected by the measures when the furlough scheme ends”.

Johnson said the furlough scheme was “the most imaginative and generous of any such scheme in Europe”.

He added: “As I have said, we are providing for every person in Scotland an extra £1200 to help fight coronavirus, and £5.3 billion more was announced just this summer alone. The people of Scotland and the people of the whole UK can count on this Government to stand by them throughout the crisis.”

Speaking on a webinar hosted by the British Chambers of Commerce yesterday, Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, suggested the Government should keep the scheme going for particular sectors.

Bailey said: “We have moved from a world of generalised employment protections to specific and focused areas.”

But he added: “It would be completely inappropriate of me to do anything to tie the Chancellor’s hands. It’s a very difficult situation we’re in at the moment and I fully support the decisions that he’s taken.”

Meanwhile, new research suggested the odds of finding a job are the worst in 50 years, with thousands of people chasing a handful of vacancies.

A study by Gordon Brown’s Alliance For Full Employment group found 5000 people chasing 10 assembly operative jobs in Birmingham; 4228 applicants for a trainee paralegal legal position in London; 2154 applicants for an administrator position in Coventry. and 2653 applicants for an assembly operative position in Sunderland. Brown said: “You’re almost as likely to win the National Lottery as this jobs lottery.”