Warnings over redundancies and a fresh call for a hospitality and tourism support package have been made after new figures reveal Cumbrian districts have the highest proportions of people on furlough in the UK.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has told ministers that more still needs to be done to protect jobs in Cumbria’s hospitality and tourism sector, after official figures show that South Lakeland has the highest proportion of furloughed workers across the whole country.

A report released this week from HM Revenues & Customs revealed that four in 10 workers in the South Lakes are currently on furlough.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Eden has the second highest proportion in the country at 39 per cent.

His call comes as the latest figures show the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit in Cumbria is still much higher than before the coronavirus lockdown, despite dropping in June.

Figures from the Cumbria Intelligence Observatory showed there were 14,065 claimants on June 11, a rate of 4.7 per cent

of the working age population compared to 6.3 per cent nationally.

The claimant count has fallen by 410 since May and has fallen in all parts of the county.

However, compared to the pre-pandemic situation in March, the count is 7,130 higher with the highest increases in South Lakeland (258 per cent) and Eden (174 per cent) and also in the Lake District National Park (407 per cent).

This is well in excess of the county and national increases (103 per cent and 107 per cent respectively).

HMRC data shows that 73,400 jobs held by Cumbrian residents had been furloughed at least once up to the end of June. This is an increase of 9,400 since May.

The highest number of furloughed jobs was in South Lakeland at 18,700 and the lowest in Copeland at 6,800.

The furlough rate was 32 per cent in Cumbria overall compared to 31 per cent nationally.

South Lakeland (40 per cent) and Eden (39 per cent) have the two highest furlough rates in the UK whilst at the other end of the scale, Copeland (22 per cent) and Barrow (23 per cent) have two of the lowest rates nationally.

There are fears that many businesses in the industry will start making large-scale redundancies once the furlough scheme starts to fade out next month.

Mr Farron said: “UKinbound’s research shows that 60 per cent of their members expect to make redundancies next month in anticipation of the furlough scheme tapering out.

“So, we’re heading for huge hardship unless the Government agrees to the package proposed by myself, Cumbria Tourism MPs from across the House and indeed tourism organisations right across the country from Visit Durham to Visit Cornwall.

“The Government must fast-track a specialist package for hospitality and tourism to save that industry today.”

Joanne Stronach, head of employment law at Cumbrian legal firm Cartmell Shepherd, warned redundancies were looming as employers were faced with having to make contributions to the Government's furlough scheme from August 1.

She said: “Some businesses are saying that they don’t think they will be back to the same level of business until well into 2021.

“And if businesses are looking at blank order books, or very few bookings, they’re going to have to make decisions about making redundancies while they are still receiving some financial support from the government before the major changes to furlough kick in.

“I advise some large multi-million pound businesses.

"Some will be looking at proposing 20 redundancies or more which means they will need to go into a 30 day collective consultation period and will be consulting with individuals and with unions.

"We make sure those businesses are fully aware of all the complexities of those processes.

“On a smaller scale I am also talking to business owners of small businesses who have never had to make anybody redundant before and are facing this for the first time and need expert advice to help them through the process.

“Some of those businesses are looking at the increasing contributions they will need to keep their staff furloughed in August, September and October, doing the number crunching now and, unless the business comes back quickly, are faced with having to go through that process and need the correct advice.

“Some are saying even the five per cent extra contribution from the start of August is going to be too much for them, so they are having to make their decisions now to ensure there is sufficient time for a fair redundancy consultation process and any notice periods for staff.”