CUTS of nearly £6 million to Dorset County Council’s budget for adult and community services will still be needed despite plans to pump in millions from a grant shared with the NHS.

County Hall care chiefs have opened negotiations with Dorset’s health trust bosses over releasing some of a £5.2m government grant to shore up their budget for the county’s vulnerable adults.

But senior councillors learned yesterday that the £3m cash injection would only reduce an estimated £7m overspend from the 2010/11 – leaving a £5.9m savings target for the year ahead untouched.

Councillor Trevor Jones, chairman of the council’s influential audit and scrutiny committee, hit out at constant revisions to the council’s finances.

He said: “What interests me is the total we have been given by government this year as opposed to how much we were given last year, and how much we are spending this year as opposed to last.

“I would ask how many pound coins are on the table, how many are we spending, and are we spending more than we’ve got? It muddies the waters when we are told about over spends from previous years and additional pressures in the year ahead.”

Council finance chiefs now estimate the authority’s total funding gap at £57.8m over three years. Before the Christmas break, councillors had been warned of a £48.6m funding gap over three years and called for savings of £27m in the year ahead.

Council care chiefs are set to debate a so-called section 256 agreement with Dorset’s NHS bosses over the use of a £5.2 million grant from central government. That grant was at the centre of a claim made in the House of Commons by Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles that Dorset was the only authority in the country to have its “spending power” increased.

But figures presented to the county council’s Audit and Scrutiny Committee revealed a 23 per cent drop in government grants next year, equivalent to £17.6m.