The new man in charge of Oxfordshire's social services says he has not been recruited to wield the axe in the troubled department.

With cuts worth more than £9m being imposed in social services there have been fears of future job losses.

But Stephen Wilds, who took over as interim director of social services three days ago, rejected any suggestion that he would be overseeing redundancies.

Mr Wilds said: "I know interim managers are seen as people who come in to wield the axe or act as troubleshooters. "But I am not offering that service to Oxfordshire County Council and the county council has not asked me to do that.

"It's not about losing jobs, it is about doing things differently. The council has no redundancy policy."

But Mr Wilds also made clear that he was unable to reverse the "painful" cuts which will affect support for the elderly and vulnerable children.

Mark Fysh, branch secretary of Unison, insisted that his union remained fearful about jobs.

He said: "If almost £10m is being lobbed off the budget with cuts that will include reductions in the hours of care workers and the closure of three respite centres, front line services are being hit.

"This must mean the writing on the wall for some jobs."

The county council has now begun the search for a new director of social and health care.

The role replaces that of social services director, a job formerly performed by Mary Robertson, who retired last week.

The new job has been advertised and a panel of six councillors from the three main parties will decide on the successful applicant in June.

The new director is expected to start work in October.