CUMBRIA faces another year of “uncertainty,” according to the deputy leader of the county council and its cabinet member for finance.

Ahead of a round of crucial budget meetings this month, Cllr Peter Thornton said he expects “uncertainty” to be the theme of 2019. Cllr Thornton said businesses big and small are “struggling to predict the unpredictable” but pledged that the county would “thrive and survive”.

The authority meets this month to set its budget and needs to find £46.9m of savings between 2019/22.

It is also expected to levy a 3.99 per cent rise in council tax and Cllr Thornton said the future funding picture for councils remains unclear.

Cllr Thornton, a Liberal Democrat, said: “We are awaiting a number of Government reforms which will impact on how we provide our frontline services over the next few years.

“The fair funding review consultation closed last March but we are still awaiting the detail of how this will impact the council.

“Business rate retention reform will form part of the future funding for the council from 2020/21 but this is out for consultation so we do not know how much funding that will provide.

“The green paper on social care for adults was due over six months ago and has yet to be published. Dealing will all of these uncertainties we must plan for the next three years, for there are some things of which we are certain.”

Cllr Thornton said the council would still need to look after around 8,000 frail, elderly residents and vulnerable adults, along with around 700 children in care.

He said: “Our 4,900 miles of roads will need to be maintained. Snow will fall, and will need to be cleared. It will rain, we just don’t know how much.

“Our 1,775 bridges may need attention. Potholes will appear and will need to be fixed. Gullies will block and need to be cleaned.”

Cllr Thornton said that the council planned to open two newly-built care homes in Carlisle and Copeland with and described council staff as “an asset beyond price.”

“We have the people of Cumbria. Strong, self-reliant, demanding, giving and hard-working. That is the most important certainty in this uncertain world,” said Cllr Thornton.