COUNCILS bosses are bracing themselves to this week hear details of their shrinking budgets for the coming years.

Leaders of North Yorkshire County Council say they expect to learn within days that they will have to save more than £60 million between now and 2020, on top of the £91 million already slashed from their budgets since 2011.

As much as 60 per cent of those savings may have come from "backroom" cuts and finding more efficient ways to use their funds, but councillors and executives admit it is getting harder and harder to find the money to save without directly hitting front line services.

Although they are looking for an "innovative approach" to the cuts they will still have to make, the council is still likely need a council tax rise of nearly four per cent to balance the budget, it says.

The county's council leader Carl Les said draft budgets are based on the assumption the council takes the full two per cent increase it can make specifically for adult social care; on top of the 1.9 percent increase they can make without triggering a local referendum.

He said: "It is almost inevitable that we will have to take that money."

Cllr Les and the authority's chief executive Richard Flinton are trumpeting the council's community partnerships - including volunteer-run libraries - and "investments to save" - like the Living Well programme which puts money into preventative work to help older people stay independent in their own homes - and save on costly care packages in the long run.

The hope is that such programmes will save the council money in the long run, and help people fulfil their own wishes by staying at home, but the investments still have their risks, Cllr Les added. He said: "If it does not work, we will have the costs of the care services to cover and the money we have wasted on the investment."

Both say they are optimistic about the future, but cannot avoid the fact that some money-saving schemes and budget cuts will hit services, and cause them "regret".

Cllr Les added: "I don't disagree with the programme of austerity because I believe what the Chancellor and the Prime Minister say about the country being nearly broke when they took office. But I do have concerns about the impact of the cuts we are having to make and how to mitigate them.

"It is difficult to take a bus service away from a community, or if you tell a community they have to run their own library."