Almost 200 fewer people in South Lakeland were claiming unemployment benefits in May than the month before, figures show, as coronavirus restrictions were eased.

Office for National Statistics data shows 1,800 people in the area were claiming out-of-work benefits as of mid-May, down from 1,990 in April.

It means three per cent of South Lakeland's working-age population sought support in May.

And it was also 745 fewer than the number of claimants recorded in May last year.

The figures include those aged 16 to 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.

The ONS cautioned that changes to Universal Credit in response to the virus mean more people can get the benefits while still being employed, which could affect the figures.

It also said a small number of people who can claim both JSA and UC could be counted twice.

National figures, which are adjusted to account for seasonal changes, show the number of people seeking help across the UK fell by 92,600 month on month to 2.5 million in May.

This period covers the reopening of outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail for the first time since December.

The ONS said the number of payrolled employees jumped by almost 200,000 in May – a record monthly rise – but remains more than half a million below pre-pandemic levels.

Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said: “Job vacancies continued to recover in the spring, and our early estimates suggest that, by May, the total had surpassed its pre-pandemic level, with strong growth in sectors such as hospitality.

"Meanwhile the redundancy rate remains subdued, while the number of employees on furlough has continued to decline."

Across the UK, 143,000 men came off unemployment benefits between May 2020 and last month – almost 10 times more than number of women.

In South Lakeland, 420 fewer men were receiving support over this time, compared to 325 fewer women.