MAJOR changes must be made to the way Oxfordshire County Council delivers services or they will “wither and die”, a senior councillor warned last night.

Cabinet member for finance Lawrie Stratford said the authority had to form partnerships with other organisations and rely more on volunteers in the face of a slew of expected new budget cuts from central Government.

His remarks came as a report presented at a meeting yesterday said the council could be forced to make extra savings of up to £60m up to 2021.

It has already planned about £285m of cuts up to 2018 and fresh savings could affect children’s centres, grant funding for community groups, homeless support, libraries and youth centres because the council is not legally obliged to provide them.

And in a stark warning to the public, Mr Stratford said the situation would get tougher. He said: “We are going to have to make some harsh decisions.

“Some services may have to be removed and we have to be upfront about that.

“People aren’t going to like us, the reality is that things are going to be very tough.

“Everything is at risk.”

The council has said it might have to stop providing some services all together and at the meeting of its cabinet yesterday, senior councillors suggested the authority would have to change the way it delivered services.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth has previously told the Oxford Mail that this could include working more with charities.

Mr Stratford added: “Our ambition is not for this council to sit back. A thriving economy is the key message.

“We need to deliver new partnerships and use more volunteers than before.

“Without these changes services will wither and die.”

Chief finance officer Lorna Baxter said the full extent of how much the council would have to save would only be made clear in December.

That would be after both Chancellor George Osborne’s “emergency Budget” in July and the announcement from the Government at the end of the year about how much funding it will grant local authorities.

But there were warnings from an umbrella organisation of charities that more cuts to public funding would have “deeper implications for the community”.

Kiera Bentley, chairman of Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA), said: “It is unclear what the impact of further cuts will be, but services are bound to be affected.

“This leaves the Third Sector in Oxfordshire with the challenge of doing more with less, a familiar story for everyone in the current climate.

“We have seen an increase in activity from organisations working with issues of ‘social breakdown’ and [job-hunting], which reflects the reduction of non-urgent support funding.

“Erosion of such funding will continue to have deeper implications for the community.”

Ms Bentley said that OCVA was encouraging its members to take on more volunteers and seek other sources of funding, such as contracts with public authorities to provide certain services.

It has also told charities that they should prioritise “critical” services and consider restructuring or working with other organisations.