ONE-and-a-half million pounds was made by council bosses through a property investment programme to boost funding amid cuts from the government.

Test Valley Borough Council's Project Enterprise programme, launched to plug a funding gap, generated the income over the 2017-2018 financial year.

The scheme aims to increase the income generated from the council's investments and reduce its reliance on the government revenue support grant.

During the 12 month period, the council brought in an excess of £1.5-million through purchasing properties and renting them out.

That sees the council recording a return of around 7.2 per cent.

Finance portfolio holder cllr Peter Giddings said: "Since 2014, the council has invested in a number of projects that have sought to generate additional revenue income. This additional income has been generated by investing the cash reserved held by the council in projects that will yield greater returns than the authority would have received from the money simply sitting in the bank.

"With diminishing funding from central government, councils across the country are becoming more entrepreneurial and more creative with how they manage and invest their money. Test Valley is no exception and we have sought to stay ahead of the game with the Project Enterprise initiative. I am pleased to say that this approach has proved successful."

The council say that if the income levels received in the last year continue, rental income between 2018 and 2019 could be around £1.9 million.

The amount of investment in completed projects at March 31 2018 was £26.51m, of which £7.769m was completed in 2017-2018.

The council also says it has commenced or approved four further property projects, with a total budget of £6.232m for 2018-2019.

Some of the investment properties over the last year included Andover Trade Park and house purchases on Spey Court and Tintagel Close, Andover. The council said no properties were purchased in Romsey within the last 12 months as part of the programme.

In addition to the expenditure on investment property, the Project Enterprise initiative also seeks to identify suitable renewable energy investments.

As a result, the council installed a number of solar panels at its Portway depot in 2017.