A review of Copeland Council’s financial position and management is to be carried out.

Reviewers have been appointed by the Government to look at eight councils, including Copeland, “following decisions earlier this year to provide exceptional financial support to these authorities”.

Local government minister Luke Hall said: “These reviewers will ensure each of the councils have plans in place so that they are financially sustainable, minimising the need for further Government support and working in the interests of the communities they serve.”

The reviews will assess the council’s financial management, management of risk, deliverability of savings plans and efficiency in delivering services.

However, Copeland Council has argued that it had not sought any financial aid and that the review came after a moving of funds from the capital budgets to revenue budgets in order to make investments in the borough.

A spokesman for Copeland Council said: “The ‘exceptional financial support’ we applied for from the Government was part of our budget-setting process earlier this year and triggers this automatic review.

“The support took the form of us seeking the Government’s approval for a capitalisation directive, which allows us to borrow to finance some expenditure.”

Tony Lywood, who was Labour’s candidate for Copeland in the 2019 General Eelection, said he believed that it brought into question the borough’s elected mayor, Mike Starkie.

He said: “Mike Starkie, as leader of Copeland Council, has always prided himself throughout his time of being financially reliable and bringing a wealth of business experience to the job of mayor.

“Clearly that experience is in now question as Copeland, which he leads, now faces an independent Government-commissioned review.”

Mr Starkie defended himself and said Mr Lywood had “done no research”.

He said: “Copeland Council will have a review because we have applied to Government to capitalise some of our own money for revenue purposes and the Government review is the process they have to follow to allow us to do that.

“It is something we have done previously following the cyberattack and is the type of prudent financial management that has allowed Copeland to recover from the position of virtual bankruptcy that his party left us in 2015.

“Failed parliamentary candidate Tony Lywood is clearly shooting from the hip and has clearly done no research before commenting.

“I can point him to the council’s last budget papers where this is detailed and was not questioned by a single Labour member over two budget meetings.

“This capitalisation option would not have been available back in 2015 as we had nothing to capitalise following 40 years of mismanagement.

“Tony Lywood’s inaccurate understanding goes some way to explain why he returned the poorest election result for Labour in Copeland in almost 100 years and why he has never progressed beyond the back benches in two Labour-led councils; they clearly thought he was not up to it.”