CUMBERLAND Council is among 19 others being granted 'exceptional financial support' to help navigate ongoing financial pressures. 

The arrangement for cash-strapped councils, known as capitalisation directions, allows the council to convert capital funds obtained through loans or asset sales into revenue.

This offers a workaround from standard accounting procedures and aims to address immediate fiscal needs.

It comes after research by the BBC Shared Data Unit showed in January that Cumberland Council’s total amassed debt, by the second quarter of 2023/24, was £254,015,000.

According to Cumberland Council, the debt was inherited from the previous district councils and Cumbria County Council before the local government reorganisation last year.

The announcement means the council is now able to use £41.23m "to support service transformation plan and also cover the additional costs associated with bringing services together after local government reorganisation (LGR)."

This government funding boost is accounted for in the budget through 2024/25.

Other councils given extra financial support include Birmingham, Bradford and Nottingham. 

Government oversight of progress will be maintained through the establishment of an independent panel.

According to the council, since April 1 2023, a robust plan has been under development to maximise the benefits of becoming a unitary authority.

Key strategies include cultivating an early help culture and taking a preventative approach to issues.

Additional investment will be required for transformation, leading to initial costs.

However, the EFS infusion provides leeway to manage this change effectively.

The announcement has been met with positivity from council leaders. 

Cllr Barbara Cannon, executive member with responsibility for financial planning and assets, said: "Today’s announcement shows confidence in our approach, that our plans and financial management arrangements are on track.

"It also shows that the government has recognised the true cost of local government reorganisation.

"It remains our ambition to transform the way we provide services to our residents so that we can make a real, long-lasting and positive difference to their lives.”

However, Conservative MP for Workington Mark Jenkinson criticised the Labour-led authority, claiming on X (formerly Twitter) that the move is down to its "financial mismanagement and inability to rationalise staffing and property."