Austerity looks set to continue, with Cumbria County Council having to claw back £33m worth of savings over the next five years.

This latest challenge comes on top of the £3.9m of savings agreed earlier this year and due to be delivered over the same period.

The decade-long belt-tightening in local government had been forecast to come to an end in 2020 but now looks set to last at least until 2025.

By the end of 2019/20, the county council will have agreed budget savings of £272m since 2011/12.

This means cash-strapped council chiefs will have made a total of £309.134m of savings between 2011/12 and 2024/25 from its day-to-day revenue budget.

An added layer of uncertainty has been added to the financial picture by the looming general election, which has come at the same time the authority would typically

receive its financial settlement.

Delivering his report on the five-year financial plan, Peter Thornton, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, described the task ahead as “completely unprecedented”.

He said the authority is caught up in a “funnel of uncertainty”.

“This is a very good description of the task,” Mr Thornton explained, “of projecting a financial future using a number of assumptions based upon the views and policies of former ministers, many of whom are now cast into outer darkness and being airbrushed out of history.

“We are having to make financial assumptions about the plans of a government yet to be elected, with ministers yet to be appointed. All the old certainties have gone.”

The authority will have to wait until after the General Election to find out the level of funding it will receive and has therefore had to base its plan on “assumptions”.

Finance chiefs hope the Fair Funding Review will recognise the extra cost of delivering services in rural areas, from social care to bin collections.

They are also waiting to see what proportion of business rates they will receive as part of a scheme which is yet to be fully rolled out.

The uncertainty comes against a background of increasing demand on council services, particularly in social care.