A scheme to support businesses in the South Lakes has been extended for 12 months, thanks to a £33,000 council boost.

South Lakeland District Council announced it was extending its partnership with Cumbria Chamber of Commerce for the continuation of the Cumbria Business Growth Hub and Business Start-up Support.

The council's cash injection includes £17,500 provided from Brexit business support-related funding, made available to local authorities from the Government.

This contribution has enabled European Regional Development Fund money to be realised.

The financial support means that new and existing firms in South Lakeland will continue to be able to access free business advice, support, training and a match-funded subsidy for specialist consultancy support.

A network of experienced advisors are available with expertise in a wide range of different business areas.

Since South Lakeland District Council began funding business support through the Growth Hub, it has supported 299 existing businesses and helped 97 new businesses get off the ground.

This assistance has created 170 jobs and safeguarded 73 existing jobs that might otherwise have been lost, the authority said.

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, portfolio holder for economy, culture and leisure, said: “The council is committed to helping create the economic conditions necessary to promote growth and create opportunities – and this is a major part of that."

Suzanne Caldwell, deputy chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “We couldn’t have achieved the success we’ve had without the support of South Lakeland and other partners.

“The Growth Hub focuses on working with Cumbrian businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to help them operate more effectively, increase their productivity and maximise profits."

The Growth Hub is currently administering the GSK Enterprise Fund, which is helping to create high-value employment to offset the impact of redundancies at GSK in Ulverston.