A cash-strapped council has managed to save £31m off its budget in the last year.

Cumbria County Council set a target to save £35.5m during 2018-19, and expects to have saved £31.4m when the financial year ends on March 31.

That leaves a £3m shortfall, which will now be carried over and found during the 2019-20 financial year.

The council expects to “break even” despite some large overspends, which have been offset by underspends in other departments.

A report to go before the council’s cabinet in Kendal on Thursday said: “The financial context for the council is extremely challenging. 2018-19 represented the ninth financial year of significant funding reductions from central government. Since 2011-12, the council has agreed a total of £249m of savings.”

The report said the financial situation remained “challenging”.

The biggest overspend has been within children and families services, which deals with looked after children, or children in the care of the county council. Latest figures to the end of December, showed it was £12m over budget.

The service has run into the red because of soaring costs in placing looked after children. The council had 680 children under its wing at the end of December.

County council leader Stewart Young praised the turnaround in children services, which in January 2017 was found to require improvement following an Ofsted inspection.

Government involvement has now come to an end with officials writing to the council recently to praise the department’s “strong and committed leadership” and “clear vision”.

Mr Young said: “The whole improvement journey in children’s services has been a cross-party effort. Several members of the council have put the politics aside to work for the children.”