The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the Cotswolds at the end of last year was well over double that seen at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, figures reveal.

Office for National Statistics data shows 1,860 people were claiming out-of-work benefits as of December 10, compared to just 710 in early March – an increase of 1,150.

That is 3.6 per cent of the area's working-age population, up from 1.4 per cent.

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.

In December 2019, there were 695 claimants in the Cotswolds.

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.

“This crisis has gone on far longer than any of us hoped – and every job lost is a tragedy,” Chancellor Rishi Sunak said.

“Whilst the NHS is working hard to protect people with the vaccine, we’re throwing everything we’ve got at supporting businesses, individuals and families.”