Almost 8,000 more people are seeking work in Cumbria than before lockdown began in March.

Latest figures released by the Government show an increase of 110 per cent across the county as unemployment figures rise for the second month in a row and are the second highest since since records began 34 years ago.

Across the county, the claimant count rose to 14,570, an increase of 2,030 from April and an increase of 7,460 from March.

South Lakeland saw a 286 per cent rise from the pre-lockdown numbers and the Lake District National Park saw its numbers rise by 420 per cent.

Eden came in at 183 per cent; Carlisle 103 per cent; Allerdale 85 per cent; and Copeland and Barrow at 69 per cent each.

The percentage increase in claimants in South Lakeland since March is the second highest of the 379 lower tier authorities in the UK, the Office for National Statistics said.

The month-on-month rise of 16.2 per cent is below the national average of 26.6 per cent, but jobseekers in the national park hit 32 per cent and South Lakeland 29.1 per cent.

Eden follows with a 19.2 per cent rise; Carlisle with 15.1 per cent; Copeland 14.3 per cent; Allerdale 11.7 per cent and Barrow 10.6 per cent.

Julie Routledge, the JobCentre’s partnership manager for West Cumbria and Barrow, said they were working hard to make sure jobseekers were getting the support they need.

“We are engaging with our clients online and over the phone as we can’t see them face-to-face. Initially we were helping people who were suddenly out of work to make sure they were claiming the benefits they needed and getting that correct support. We’ve now moved into the recovery phase of the pandemic and are helping people get back to work.”

She added that the sharp rise in South Lakeland was due in large part to huge numbers of the self-employed who could no longer trade.

Nationally, official statistics showed a drop in the number of paid employees – down by 2.1 per cent – and an increase in benefit claims.

Although the UK jobless rate remained largely unchanged quarter on quarter at 3.9 per cent in the three months to April, with unemployment at 1.34 million, there are fears that more redundancies could follow as Government support is withdrawn over the coming months.

Jonathan Athow, of the ONS, said: “The slowdown in the economy is now visibly hitting the labour market.

“The big change has been in the number of hours worked. It seems that businesses have really taken advantage of the furlough scheme."