A CUMBRIAN council is poised to deliver its fifth consecutive “no cuts” budget against a background of shrinking Whitehall funding.

Copeland council has seen its central Government funding slashed by £2.5m over the last five year period.

However, it has managed not only to absorb the hit but even to make service “improvements”, according to elected mayor Mike Starkie.

The budget, which is still to be formally agreed by members, would also restrict the council tax rise to 1.95 per cent for the fifth year running.

This is part of a commitment to keep increases below the retail price index, so that in real terms means Copeland council’s share of burden has reduced since 2015.

Over the last five years, increases on fees and charges in Copeland have averaged approximately 2 per cent annually.

This is below inflation and a significant reduction from the period 2011 to 2015 when fees and charges were increasing at more the 4.75 per cent annually.

The last five years has also seen increased investment in areas such as street cleaning, bereavement and IT.

Mr Starkie attributed the success to a move away from employing “expensive” consultants and interims towards investing in its own staff.

This has seen an improvement in employee retention rates, making it easier for knowledge and skills to be passed on to new staff members.

Copeland council has also managed to claw back long-standing debts worth up to 400k over the last four years by tightening up its financial controls.

Since 2015, the authority has increased the portion of retained business rates by more the 50 per cent in a bid to boost growth and swell the council coffers.

The authority’s long-term strategic plans have also been described by Mr Starkie as “key” to unlocking millions of pounds of Government cash through the Future High Street Fund, the Stronger Towns Fund and the Borderlands Growth Deal.

The council is also working with its partners, including third sector organisations, to support the vulnerable in the community, which has been identified as one of the authority’s main priorities.