Hundreds fewer workers in South Lakeland were on furlough in April, as coronavirus restrictions started easing across the UK.

Many pub, restaurant and shop workers returned to their roles that month as outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail opened for the first time since December.

However, with restrictions still in place, businesses in other sectors continue to be hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

HM Revenue and Customs figures show that 8,700 jobs held by workers living in South Lakeland were furloughed in April.

That was 2,000 fewer than the 10,700 furloughed at the end of March.

The figures also show that in April in South Lakeland:

• Furloughed jobs in the retail sector dropped by 560, to 1,480

• In the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, 120 fewer jobs were supported by the scheme, however 400 were still furloughed in April

• The number of hospitality jobs furloughed fell by 350, to 3,910

Through the scheme, the Government pays 80 per cent of a worker’s wages, up to £2,500 per month, if they haven’t been able to work due to the impact of the pandemic.

However, employers will pay a larger contribution from July.

Across the UK, the total number of jobs furloughed fell by 900,000 during April to 3.4 million at the end of the month, the figures show.

Separate HMRC figures show 5,500 self-employed workers in South Lakeland have received Government cash since the self-employment income support scheme started.The total value of the claims made across the area stood at £44.4 million by May 9.