Businesses in Cumbria are “cautiously optimistic” about restarting trading but are concerned about the end of the Job Retention Scheme in October, a recent survey has revealed.

The Wave 4 tracker survey by the Business and Economic Response and Recovery Group (BERRG) of the Local Resilience Forum identified that 57% of businesses that had been temporarily closed expected to return to trading once the accommodation and food service sectors reopened on 4th July.

The survey was completed by 229 organisations between 29th June and 3rd July.

Latest projections of the damage Cumbria’s economy has suffered estimate a 20.7 per cent contraction in economic output between March and May 2020 compared to December 2019 and February 2020, slightly higher than the national average of 19.1 per cent.

Cumbrian businesses have benefitted from both the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, with a take up higher than the national average and the Eden and South Lakeland districts highest in the UK.

Jo Lappin, Chair of BERRG and Chief Executive of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is clear that the Job Retention Scheme has played a significant part in protecting jobs and businesses in Cumbria. This is demonstrated in Cumbria’s unemployment figures, which currently stand at 4.7 per cent compared to the UK’s position of 6.3 per cent.

“However, there are significant variances for different age groups with the rate of those aged 25 to 34 years old standing at 7.4 per cent and those aged 16-24 years old at 6.5 per cent compared with over 55s, which stands at 3 per cent. I am particularly concerned about those aged 25 to 34, who may have significant domestic and financial responsibilities.

“Additionally, the scale of increase was during the period when many employees have been furloughed on the Job Retention Scheme. We will therefore need to very closely monitor the position going forward.

“It is encouraging that a level of optimism is returning to the business community but we are realistic about the challenges our economy and businesses face.”