AS of April, almost two in five eligible adults in the Bradford district were still on furlough across the Bradford district, as 11.5 million were using the scheme across the UK.

The latest figures on claims to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) showed 79,700 people were still using the system, 38.9 per cent of all employees eligible for furlough in the district.

The numbers, which date up until the end of March, were collated before the mid-April easing of Covid lockdown rules, when hundreds of businesses across the district such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops could reopen for the first time since early January.

The furlough figure in Bradford was the second highest in West Yorkshire; Kirklees had the highest with 40.8 per cent, followed by Bradford, and then Calderdale with 38.8 per cent, Wakefield with 37.7 per cent, and in Leeds it was 37.4 per cent.

Across West Yorkshire 376,000 people were still on furlough by the end of March, while across Yorkshire the figure was 882,500.

In the district, Bradford East had the highest number of staff on furlough at 17,200, and the highest percent of eligible workers claiming the CJRS with 41.1 per cent, followed by Keighley where it was 39.4 per cent.

In Bradford South the figure was 39.3 per cent, in Bradford West it was 38.1 per cent, while Shipley had the lowest number on furlough at 36.7 per cent.

Across the country, as of April 14, 11.5 million people had accessed the CJRS, claiming a cumulative total of £61.3 billion of financial support.

While many businesses have accessed furlough to keep staff on during lockdown, and many people are now returning to work, unemployment has continued to rise in Bradford as jobs fall victim to the pandemic.

Figures from West Yorkshire Combined Authority revealed that in March the unemployment rate was almost 10 per cent in Bradford, with 9.8 per cent of the district’s working age population claiming out of work benefits.

Across West Yorkshire, the claimant count in March was 110,505, almost double (94 per cent) the level it was 12 months ago before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, with the unemployment rate at 7.5 per cent.

The percentage of people working at their normal place of work dropped to just over 40 per cent in January when the third national lockdown was enforced, but that has since risen back to about 50 per cent.

Businesses are beginning to return to some sort of normality, with almost 80 per cent now trading as retail and hospitality reopens.