SOME of Hampshire’s poorest and most vulnerable residents have been warned to brace themselves for another £120 million of cuts.

County council chiefs are facing a £120 million black hole which they must plug within three years.

Social care, transport and community grants are all coming under the axe as civic leaders respond to their “greatest financial challenge yet”.

By next year the council’s budget will have been slashed by almost half a billion pounds – or 63 per cent – since national austerity began in 2010.

Ukip has questioned whether the cuts are possible but softened its attacks on council leader Roy Perry.

The council has plugged a £15 million gap for 2017/18 but must find £120 million by April 2019.

It has proposed to cut £55.7 million from adult health and care, £30 million from children’s services, which includes adoption and child protection but not schools.

Some £19 million is to be cut from the economy, environment and transport department, with a £15.1 million reduction in policy and resources, which allocates community grants.

Council departments will be given six months to decide how to implement their cuts.

Conservative council leader Cllr Roy Perry said the council does not have the “luxury” of being able to borrow and run a deficit, like the NHS and government can.

He told cabinet yesterday: “If there are reductions that are made in services, they’re not done with any great joy in our hearts – they’re done because we have that legal obligation. And what we will do our best to do is to see that the services are still provided as well as we possibly can for the people of Hampshire.”

He added: “Given that our efficiency programme to 2020 will increase the cumulative annual total of savings to £460 million, against a backdrop of increased demand for vital services, we will have to give some serious thought to what we can do differently in the future. Clearly, we’re not going to be able to deliver services at the same level and breadth without making some changes.”

Ukip group leader Cllr Chris Wood questioned whether the cuts were achievable, but said his party would not be “obstructive”.

He said: “This is a substantial amount of money to be taking out of the council, especially after the so-called low-hanging fruit has already been cut.”

In February, Cllr Wood called for the leader to resign over the budget, blasting his “complete and utter lack of any backbone” in resisting government cuts.

Yesterday he apologised, telling the meeting: “I don’t think that was actually very fair on the leader.”

The Liberal Democrats did not speak at the meeting.