THE prospect of major cuts to council services is looming after bosses revealed an extra £2.6m black hole in their finances.

Cherwell District Council (CDC) has revised the shortfall needed to balance the books from £5.2m to £7.8m, from 2013 to 2017.

It said worsening Government settlements and welfare reforms had put pressure on costs and warned of “difficult decisions” ahead.

The authority has so far avoided major cuts and price hikes to services, which include car parking, parks and leisure centres. Its controversial cuts include an annual reduction in Dial-a-Ride funding from £187,500 to £30,000.

Finance member for the Conservative-run council Ken Atack has now warned services could be cut.

He said: “We do all we can to find efficiencies but consecutive cuts (in Government funding) force us to consider changes to service provision or increases in council tax, the latter of which we have managed to avoid for three years in a row.”

The leader of the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups on the council were not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Council spending has fallen from £23.5m in 2007/08 to £14.6m this year as it grapples with less cash from Government.

The Government grant to the council fell from £8.6m last year to £7.6m this year.