Thousands of people in Cumbria were still on furlough when the scheme closed at the end of September, figures show.

They were among more than one million workers being supported across the UK when the scheme wrapped up, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies said what happens to them is 'critical' for the economy.

The latest data from HM Revenue and Customs shows 6,000 jobs held by workers living in Cumbria were furloughed as of September 30 – 2.8 per cent of all that were eligible.

That was 1,200 fewer than the number on the scheme a month previously.

The data shows 1,400 jobs held by workers living in Carlisle were furloughed as of September 30 – 2.9 per cent of all that were eligible – and 1,100 jobs held by workers living in Allerdale, 2.7 per cent of those eligible.

Copeland was less reliant on the furlough scheme when it ended than anywhere else in the UK, figures show.

The data shows 600 jobs held by workers living in Copeland were furloughed as of September 30 – just two per cent of all that were eligible.

And the furlough rate in Cumbria was well below the average across the UK, of four per cent.

Around 93,800 jobs have been furloughed in the area at various times since the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme began in March 2020, the figures show.

They are among 11.7 million jobs across the UK to have received wage support from the Government at some point, though the scheme was being used less as coronavirus restrictions eased.

At the end of September, the CJRS was supporting 1.1 million jobs – the lowest number since March 22 last year.

The Treasury said around half of those still being supported were already working some of their hours.

From August 1, employers had to contribute 20 per cent of employees’ wages up to £625, with the Government contributing 60 per cent, up to £1,875.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate 87 per cent of furlough workers have since returned to work, three per cent were made permanently redundant and three per cent voluntarily left their role.

Tom Waters, senior research economist at the IFS, said: "Early statistics don’t suggest any significant increase in redundancies, suggesting that many employees will be rehired into their old jobs.

"With unemployment barely exceeding five per cent at any point since the crisis began, we can safely say that the furlough scheme has prevented a substantial amount of job loss – but it has come with a huge price tag, at a total cost of almost £70 billion.”

Across the UK, men were slightly more likely to be on furlough than women at the end of September.

But the opposite was true in Cumbria, with 2.9 per cent of eligible jobs held by women on the scheme, compared to 2.6 per cent for men.

Retail workers were the most likely to be furloughed nationally when the scheme ended (15 per cent of all jobs), followed by those in the accommodation and food services sector (14 per cent).

In Cumbria, the retail sector was the most reliant on the CJRS at this time, making up 19 per cent of all furloughed jobs.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said furlough helped people 'when they needed it most', while the Government's Plan for Jobs will deliver more opportunities going forward.

He added: "As a result of our action the economy is growing, more employees are on payrolls than ever before and unemployment has fallen for eight months in a row."