A job centre in the UK... the list of jobless claims has shot up to worrying levels despite government efforts to cap the pain. Image Credit: Bloomberg

London: The number of Britons seeking jobless benefits spiked the most on record last month as the coronavirus lockdown sent shock waves through the UK economy.

Jobless claims rose 856,500 to more than 2 million in April, the Office for National Statistics said. The claimant count rate climbed to 5.8 per cent - the highest in more than two decades.

With an estimated 7.5 million jobs saved by the government's furlough plan, Britain has been spared mass unemployment as the economy heads for what could be its deepest recession for three centuries. The shutdown of the economy since March 23 is nonetheless taking a heavy toll, and worse is to come with economists predicting a massive economic contraction this quarter.