A COUNCIL which has axed key services amid £171m budgetary cutbacks has warned its financial problems are not over - despite spending £7.4m less than its budget last year.

North Yorkshire County Council said “complacency was not on the agenda” as it still faced having to cut its annual budget by up to £15m and escalating pressures on its adult and social care budget.

Deputy leader, Cllr Gareth Dadd, told a meeting of the authority’s executive the £7.4m underspend should be treated with extreme caution as £4.5m of it was a one-off windfall the council had not budgeted for and the remainder had been accounted for in its savings target.

He said: “Up to press, we have delivered the savings that’s been required without touching too much on the frontline. There has been service changes and notable differences in terms of delivery, that I accept. But I think we have stuck to the principle of protecting, as far as we can, vulnerable members of our communities. That will be the principle that we stick to moving forward.”

Cllr Dadd said the council now had the foundations to deliver what he hoped would be the “final lap of austerity”.

He said: “When you look at places like Northamptonshire, they chose I believe, not to get ahead of the curve, not to tackle those challenging issues – we’ve done just that, and therefore we are in a far better position to move forward. It is going to be more difficult.”

He said the Tory-run council faced a headache funding health and adult services in the coming year, which is 40 per cent of its budget. “We are doing our best to grapple with those financial challenges. They are problems, there is no two ways about it.

"Whilst not giving an open-ended cheque to those directorates, what we are doing from a political level is giving them some priority and supporting them in coming through that difficult period.

“But, it’s now over to Government, of whatever colour it may be in the future, to come up with a robust, sustainable solution to this national problem. “