A LEADING council officer who has overseen £197million of cuts to services over the last eight years has warned the Government that local authorities will not be able to properly provide for vulnerable people unless they receive extra funding.

North Yorkshire County Council chief executive Richard Flinton has told a meeting of the authority’s executive it is “absolutely vital” that the additional spending money the Government has provided to maintain services for the county’s most needy people is increased next year.

He said while the authority had injected £7m more into this year’s budget to cover spiralling demand for services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), just three months into the financial the council was projecting a £2.1m overspend in the area. Rising numbers of SEND students, he said, was causing the pressure.

Mr Flinton said figures for the first quarter of the year had also indicated spending on adult social care was rising faster than had been anticipated and was “overheating to the tune of £5m”. He said the overspend was largely being driven by the cost of care packages, which varied significantly across the county.

In February 2011, while facing having to make £69m of savings over four years, Mr Flinton wrote to the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles urging the Government to reconsider what he then considered to be a “severe” funding settlement.

He said: “If this settlement stands unaltered then the consequences in North Yorkshire for service delivering will be devastating.”

Mr Flinton, who has since overseen a drive to cut a further £128m from the authority’s spending, said the success of the council’s savings programme was disguising mounting financial pressures and the council was projecting an overall underspend of £3.6m, equivalent to 0.9 per cent of its budget.

He said: “It is a positive position which does mask some interesting and potentially difficult trends. We do have overheating happening in both of our main people services.”

Mr Flinton said given that the Government had decided it would only review funding for next year, it was “absolutely vital that those areas of pressure are recognised by the Government”.

He said it was crucial that windfalls the Government has given for children’s and adult services are “rolled forward and indexed for inflation in order for all councils to be able to face the future with some degree of certainty about meeting their obligations around vulnerable people”.

Councillor Michael Harrison, the authority’s adult social care executive member said while the council’s strategy to try and help to live healthy independent lives in their own communities benefits many residents, it also ensured the council’s cost pressures were contained wherever possible.

He said: “Our strategy is right, but we still need a long-term financial solution.”

The council’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, said the County Council Network, for which he is children’s services and education spokesman, had a good recent track record about putting points across to ministers.

He added the council was fortunate that Richmond MP Rishi Sunak had been appointed chief secretary to the Treasury, the minister who writes the settlement for councils, so the authority was “using opportunities to brief him of our concerns”.