THE county council needs to save £17 million by March as it struggles to cope with the ever-increasing cost of social care.

Bosses at Worcestershire County Council said the entire "shape and size" of the 2,800-strong authority will be under review as council bosses examine everything with a fine tooth comb in a bid to plug the financial hole.

The authority has already made a start and has outlined £12 million worth of savings but needs to find another £5 million by next year.

Cllr Simon Geraghty, leader of Worcestershire County Council, said: "Many county councils across the country are reporting financial pressures as a result of increases in demand for children's services and adult social care.

"Worcestershire is no different. We have already taken action this year to reduce the predicted overspend. However in the absence of an agreed national solution to fund adult social care we will have to continue to take difficult decisions in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society."

The council has found a host of areas in which it feels it could make savings, including scrapping as many vacant posts as possible, charging the elderly for advice on getting the best care package, a service they currently provide for free, as well as cuts to libraries, staff training, catering, a review of highways contracts and a review of how the authority makes its payments.

Michael Hudson, the county council’s chief financial officer, said: “We need to make a measured and long term view. This is all about good housekeeping and getting ourselves in order.

“If there is a team of eight and there have been two vacancies waiting to be filled, we need to ask ourselves whether we need to fill those two vacancies.

“We need to review every single position and make sure what is needed.”

The results from the full scale review of the county’s already beleaguered bus service, announced at last week’s full council meeting, will no doubt form the council's approach as it looks to shear the £1.8 million it currently spends.

The council will also be dipping into its reserves as well as taking £500,000 from an insurance pot that used to compensate victims who take legal action over accidents.

The county council has already admitted it would not be able to make £8 million of spending cuts in the next six months and has said they will be carried over to 2019/20.

The council has an annual net budget of more than £324 million of which more than two thirds is spent on safeguarding children and protecting vulnerable adults.

In the last decade, the council has already made £168 million of cuts and savings.