THE number of pupils getting dedicated music tuition in York is heading for a 15 per cent fall, as cash-strapped families try to make ends meet.

Education bosses at City of York Council say the drop is putting extra pressure on their budget for the coming year, as all departments try to balance their books for 2009/10 and for long-term capital projects.

In 2005/6, the council had 2,001 pupils taking instrument lessons in groups during the school day, but the estimate for 2009 is 1,700.

A council spokeswoman said: “We know that with tight budgets, the ability for parents to pay the cost of £49 per term is increasingly difficult. In fact there has been a dip nationally in the take-up of local authority-provided, instrument music tuition for which parents pay.”

She said that, despite the financial impact, more children were getting some instrument tuition now as there was now more whole-class teaching of music.

The children and young people's services (CYPS) is also under pressure due to the increased number of looked-after children, up from 166 at the end of 2007/8 to 194. The increase is costing an extra £70,000 a year.

Savings proposed in CYPS include £267,000 by reducing the number of out-of-city placements for special needs children. Instead, the council will use more local services and work with partners including the National Health Service to give better support at home.

The leisure, culture and social inclusion (LCSI) budget proposals have also been revealed. The department is still looking to fund a major redevelopment of York Central Library, with an initial ground-floor revamp costing £500,000 of which £200,000 would come from the council.

The department hopes to save £59,000 by avoiding business rates at Waterworld, as the new operator Nuffield Health can claim relief as a charity. The full council budget will be set at Guildhall on February 26.