Cumbria County Council's finance chief warned it will be counting the cost of the pandemic for years to come as a £47million hit to its coffers was revealed.

Councillor Peter Thornton, who is the cabinet member for finance, said even with the £25m received so far from the Government, the latest estimate of the total cost of COVID-19 to the council still left a hole of £22m in the finances to be filled.

Speaking at a virtual cabinet meeting, Mr Thornton stressed that the outbreak would have financial ramifications long after lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

“It’s not over when it’s over," he said. “We are all looking forward to a point when we can say we have beaten back this disease, however we define that elusive point.

“However the rest of the year develops from here, these three months that we have been through will affect our budget for many years to come.”

He also emphasised the need for the Government to make good on a pledge from ministers to compensate local authorities for costs related to COVID-19.

“All councils are very exposed indeed against any retraction of the Government’s position on this," he said.

“If the Government does not come up with the hard cash that they have promised, all councils will have to make very difficult decisions as this year goes on.”

The update came before Mr Thornton, who is also the council's deputy leader, read out a report on the provisional results for the previous financial year, which he said showed the council had been in a “strong and stable” financial position before the pandemic hit.

“The key messages are that we achieved a balanced budget at the end of 2019/20 for the revenue account,” he said.

“That’s on a net budget for services of £394m and a gross turnover of not far off £1billion, in the £800millions.

“The general fund balance is preserved at just over £15m, which is what we aimed at doing and what we managed to do.

“The capital programme achieved a year-end expenditure of £91m, excluding the accountable bodies programme."

Although the COVID-19 impact was recorded in the report as just more than £1million, Mr Thornton made clear that figure was only for the previous financial year which ended weeks into the lockdown.