Urgent measures are to be taken by Devon County Council to reduce spending as the council faces a near £10million budget overspend.

Budget monitoring reports, showing situation six months into the year, which went in front of the cabinet yesterday (Wednesday), showed an £8.15m overspend was being forecast, while children’s services is set for a £9.9m overspend.

As a result, a temporary hold on filling backroom job vacancies has been implemented, which includes delaying filling vacancies for two months after a postholder leaves.

A ban on all non-essential overtime and ending attendance at conferences with associated allowances unless they are externally funded has also been implemented.

The cabinet was recommended by officers, and unanimously agreed, to take the ‘urgent measures’ to reduce overall council spending by £5 million.

But they slammed central government for the chronic underfunding of councils.

Councillor Stuart Barker, cabinet member for resources management, said: “Like most other councils, we have an issue of rising demand and costs for children’s services, so we have to take some actions to be able to deliver those services into the future.

“We are not taking action on essential posts, so posts like children’s social workers won’t be affected. We are just delaying the replacement of vacant posts by around two months. If a vacancy arises then it will be filled, but just delayed by two months, and this is for non-essential staff.”

Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said the council should be anxious about budget pressures they were facing, but added: “Central government can’t keep expected local government to tackle adult and children services without additional resources. Children coming into the service is rising, the cost of the service is rising, but government funding is reducing.

“It will lead to a perfect storm like we have seen in other councils and the government does need to put money in for essential services. And if they don’t, there will be another service failure, like Baby P, if not in this council but another.”

Phil Norrey, chief executive of Devon County Council, said he wanted to reassure councillors, staff and taxpayers about the impact of the savings strategy, saying it was ‘tight and good housekeeping’.

He said: “We are making sure that we have our house in order rather than panicking and walking over a cliff and the range of measures we are implementing we have looked at very carefully.

“There are pressures across the country and after around eight or nine years of extreme pressures on budgets, it has to come a point when we reach the end of the road on spending, and that will come in the next two or three years.”