BRAINTREE'S MP has called on residents to support businesses in the district to help boost the local economy following the coronavrius lockdown.

James Cleverly's plea comes after data showed his constituency came second in Essex when it comes to the number of people on the Government's furlough scheme.

The initiative was launched in March when the lockdown was announced and sees the Government pay 80 per cent of worker's wages.

Figures released by the Government show approximately 14,200 residents in the Braintree constituency have been placed on furlough up to May 31.

Only the Thurrock constituency has more more people on furlough in Essex with 16,300.

The number of people in the Witham constituency, which includes villages like Stanway and Tiptree, meanwhile stands at 11,600.

Mr Cleverly says he is pleased to see businesses have signed up to the scheme in order to protect both their long term futures and employees.

He said: "We have a lot of small independent businesses in the district who would have been hit really hard by the crisis which is perhaps why the numbers seem high.

"But I'm very proud of the fact this Government and the chancellor took unprecedented action to help the people of this country.

"We have never seen a scheme like this initiated on this scale in country.

"It has meant people who were facing incredible financially difficulty have been protected."

The Foreign Office minister says he remains confident the economy both locally and nationally will begin to grow again after non essential retailers reopened last week.

He says he will be leading by example by spending money in local shops and admits others will need to do the same to help businesses through the rest of the crisis.

He added: "What we now want to do is get the local economy up and running again.

"We'll need people to spend money in their local shops and support businesses.

"We're keen to get people back to some sense of normality and get the economy going again, particularly as there are some exciting things going on at the moment like the redevelopment of Braintree town centre.

"Ideally we want everyone who's on the furlough scheme to go back into the jobs they had before the pandemic."

The furlough scheme is due to run until the end of October but from August 1, the Government will only pay 60 per cent of wages and will ask businesses to cover the remaining amount.