A leading county forum will ask the Government to offer extra support to sectors most affected by Covid-19 to help them recover.

The Business and Economic Response and Recovery Group (BERRG) of the Local Resilience Forum, the body responsible for developing the business and economy response to coronavirus, welcomed the news that the Government's Job Retention Scheme will continue until October.

Jo Lappin, the group's chair, said: “The scheme has been critical in helping our businesses to retain their workforce and this extension is really welcome.

"I’m sure that businesses will welcome additional flexibilities, such as part-time furloughing, which will help them manage their workforce in line with business needs.

“In terms of these flexibilities, we will be asking for a more targeted approach to make sure that those sectors most adversely affected receive additional support.

“The more that we can all do to protect our businesses and our economy the better, as this will support our longer term economic recovery.”

The scheme will remain unchanged until the end of July with furloughed workers continuing to receive 80 per cent of their current salary, up to £2,500 per month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would then consider changes to the scheme, to provide greater flexibility including allowing firms to bring staff back to work such as part-time furloughing.

Mrs Lappin, who is also chief executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “The scheme has been one of the key measures introduced by government to support businesses during the pandemic.

“Nationally, there has been a significant take up with almost 7.5 million employees currently furloughed.

"Locally, we know that a significant number of businesses have made use of the scheme to furlough their staff until they are in a position to fully restart their business."

Meanwhile, Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, said: “The extension of the Job Retention Scheme will be greatly welcomed by businesses across Cumbria.

"The scheme is a real lifeline which has been hugely beneficial in helping small employers keep their staff employed. I really welcome the Government’s unprecedented support packages so far and it is heartening that the Chancellor has listened to me and my colleagues in our calling for increased breadth and flexibility to these schemes.”

And Copeland MP Trudy Harrison added: “For the first time in our history the Government are helping pay people’s wages through the scheme.

"This has been a lifeline for people, businesses and livelihoods in Copeland, providing significant reassurance until we can all return to normality.

“I have had positive feedback from our businesses and communities about how this vital resource has supported them."