THE council’s spending plans for the next financial year have been laid out.

Members of the cabinet Westmorland and Furness Council have recommended £110.51 million in capital spending over the 2024/25 financial year.

Cabinet member for finance councillor Andrew Jarvis said: “We are already making progress in transforming our council but this budget provides the basis for the next steps to retain and further strengthen our services, to invest in savings and service improvements, and further progress to delivering our council plan.”

“Let me be clear we’re doing this in a managed and prudent way, our capacity is limited, and we cannot do everything at the same time. Rushing change could create huge risks as we’ve seen elsewhere. You might even be excused for thinking at times this is a bit of a boring budget, but I can assure you it is not the time for an exciting budget.”

According to a report prepared for the cabinet meeting the council plans on spending £499.95 million before the end of the 2028/29 financial year. This includes the capital budget for 2023/24 of £75.65 million.

Before April 2029 the council proposes spending £19m of investment for prioritised maintenance of  schools and £30m for other buildings as well as  £100m maintenance of highways with an additional estimated £70m from the Network North funding announced recently

There is also £9m of housing revenue account (HRA) planned maintenance, £10.4m for decarbonisation projects and £24.5m for the Marina Village Phase 2 scheme plus many smaller projects.

Cllr Jarvis told the cabinet a number of areas were ‘underinvested’ by the former district councils and Cumbria County Council.

He said: “This is most notable in the maintenance expenditure for corporate assets. We know that sticking maintenance on schools, care homes, libraries, offices, playgrounds, and many other assets is a false economy.

“So, we are including an additional £5.5 million per annum in our capital plan to maintain our assets. This will directly benefit all users of the assets, our communities, our residents and our colleagues.”

The council will continue to provide the council tax reduction scheme for people on low incomes which supported 13,000 households in the area this past year according to council documents.

Cllr Jarvis added: “We will continue to support those most in need and those tackling the cruelty of poverty. Not only will we be keeping the generous council tax support scheme, but we will be increasing the discretionary housing fund this year.”

This comes as the cabinet recommended using over £10 million of reserves and has identified £10 million of savings to reach a balanced budget in the upcoming financial year.

Westmorland and Furness Council will decide whether to adopt the proposals at a full council meeting on February 22 at the County Hall in Kendal.