A West Cumbrian council wants to explore projects – from investing in property to providing loans – to combat the age of austerity.

Copeland Council has launched its updated commercial strategy for 2019 to 2023.

It said: "The age of austerity has been instrumental in councils challenging themselves, and the pressures caused have not only given us 'permission', but, are a requirement to seek to do things differently."

The authority has already changed some of its services, including grounds maintenance and trade waste contracts and pest control, but has pledged to investigate other commercial avenues.

This, the 30-page strategy says, could also include streamlining of its own internal resources, saving cash on its contracts and procurement processes and creating revenue-generating enterprises, like MoTs or a handyman service.

It said recent improvements to procurement have already identified savings of more than £120,000.

The strategy added: "The lack of future commercial returns will cut existing services – to do nothing is a risk in itself.

"The council can no longer be apologetic or defensive about the selective use of revenue generation in certain service areas.

"In years to come, those services that can stand on their own two feet by generating income will be the lifeblood of the council.

"The council recognises incremental change will no longer suffice and wholesale change and a different model of operation is required.

"'Commercial' must be the DNA in the fabric of the council."

Councillors voted unanimously to adopt the strategy, which will also see a new role created to oversee it.

Mike Starkie, mayor, said: “Like a lot of local authorities, government funding has reduced significantly and this financial pressure means that Copeland must do things differently.

“We intend to face these challenges head-on, and bridge the financial gap by generating our own income."

It will set up a commercial engagement group which will carry out a review to identify and develop opportunities that may exist for new services.

Examples the strategy uses include Great Yarmouth's £2 million scheme to buy up dilapidated flats and bedsits and renovate them for sale or rent; Swindon's subsidiary PPS Community Solar Farms, using council-owned unproductive former landfill sites and Warrington, which raised a £150m bond that supported loans, a mortgage scheme, investment in solar farms and digitising services.