Cumbria County Council’s finances are the envy of many a local authority, according to the authority’s deputy leader.

Peter Thornton, who is also the financial brief-holder, said that reports put to the full council “give a picture of this council’s continuing financial health” in a climate of continuing austerity.

The council reported a “break even” position after making transfers to earmarked reserves, while the authority’s general fund balance increased in round figures from £10m to £15m, which Mr Thornton described as “very welcome indeed at this time of increasing uncertainty”.

Summarising the council’s financial position, he said: “We met our budget targets. We delivered savings of over £35m and we increased our general reserve by £5m.

“And there are many councils of all political colours who would dearly love to be able to deliver a similar report. This result as always has been achieved by a mixture of underspends and overspends.

“And it is in the context of continued unprecedented reductions in funding to local government and demand pressures in relation to, but not exclusively, social care, in particular children’s care.”

He said that council should be “proud” of what had been achieved in 18/19, adding that the authority had “not merely survived” but delivered an “ambitious council plan to the people of Cumbia”.

Among the achievements highlighted by coun Thornton was the building of two care homes on time and to budget. 

He also revealed that LED street-lighting savings across the county have saved 10million units of electricity, representing almost £1m of revenue savings and 7,000 tonnes of carbon.

But coun Thornton also raised concerns over the challenges facing the council, particularly over social care.

He said that a report from Association of Directors of Adult Social Services had described social care as being “adrift in a sea of inertia”.

Councils across the Britain are still awaiting the publication of a green paper – a preliminary Government report – looking at the future funding of social care.