THE axe could fall on 450 jobs at Hampshire County Council this week.

Councillors will meet tomorrow to decide whether to rubber stamp the latest round of service cuts at the authority.

Civic chiefs say dwindling Government grants are behind the plans to cut back on £98m of services at the Conservative-led council.

County council leader Roy Perry told the Daily Echo - The Gazette's sister paper - last year that as many as 1,000 jobs may be at risk in the long run and 454 are earmarked in this round of cuts.

The proposals include axing £52m of adult social care services by “reducing residential care” while social care, family support services and education could also be scaled back.

Other proposals include dimming street lights, reducing contributions to the county’s museums and bus services and reducing highways budgets.

More details on exactly which services could be affected will be provided if the proposals are approved, and the council has stressed that as many job losses as possible will be managed through voluntary redundancies.

The plans have been attacked by opposition figures and unions, with Unison describing it as “the latest in a series of relentless attacks on public services and council services in particular by the Conservative party” and UKIP councillor Andy Moore labelling them “diabolical”.

Cllr Perry said he is looking ahead to the announcement on the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review on November 25 to see what the council will have to face in the future.

Ahead of the meeting he said it was vital they planned ahead for predicted additional budget pressures.

He added that the council was facing its "greatest financial challenge yet" and said: “Therefore, it’s essential we start preparing as early as possible for the financial picture ahead – taking into consideration the prospect of further likely cuts in our grant from Government, alongside the additional pressures we expect to face on our budgets, by the end of the decade.

“On-going demand for social care to address the complex needs of growing numbers of older people, and vulnerable children and adults in Hampshire, continues to be a major factor in our financial considerations.

“As we head towards 2020, we must also bear in mind the future cost implications of the national living wage when it’s introduced next year, particularly in the area of adult social care.

“With growing pupil numbers across Hampshire, the provision of secondary school places will also significantly influence our budget forecasts.

"Taking all these factors into account, it represents the greatest financial challenge we face yet, and coming at the end of a previous eight years of austerity in the public sector.

“None of us can predict the future with any certainty, and indeed, not until the Government’s autumn statement which will cover a period many of us hope will be the final years of austerity for the public sector.

"However, as we head towards 2020, it’s unlikely there will be any let up in the downward pressure on local government budgets that we have been seeing over the last decade.”