HARROW Council spending cuts totalling £19m will have “very minimal impact on services”, the chief executive claims.

The authority has been forced to strip cash out of its budget after the Government reduced its funding but leading figures within the authority say they have protected front line services.

Council tax has also been frozen.

Michael Lockwood, the chief executive, told the Harrow Times the cost cutting drive had been “innovative” and would have a “very, very minimal impact on services”.

Councillor Bill Stephenson, leader of the council's Labour administration, said: “We are not like the government.

“The Government came into power and within a month put in a whole load of reforms, back of the envelope stuff, which everyone is now trying to unravel.

“We looked at things in a measured way, made sure we consulted, made sure everything we were doing was soundly based and made sure everything we were doing was right for Harrow residents.”

Services designed to prevent children from falling into crime, being excluded from school or needing to be taken into care will not be available to as many people as the council targets the most vulnerable in the borough.

The authority plans to charge for Summer Uni Harrow, its programme of events for children on their summer holidays, and money for the Harrow Youth website has been stopped, although Harrow Youth Parliament has taken it over.

All departments have been hit with substantial savings and the authority says much of the cash has been made up by changing the way it works, rather than cutting services.

In adult social care, money has been saved by giving residents their own budgets to decide what services they want.

Work to make older people more independent so they can live at home and rely less on council services has freed up further cash and will allow the department to employ fewer agency workers.

Libraries will be kept open but will lose staff in favour of supermarket style self-service machines.

Since the start of this year 157 staff have taken voluntary redundancy while five have been made redundant across the authority and a number of vacant posts have not been filled.

More posts will be axed next year and less money will be available for hiring agency staff.

Councillor Susan Hall, leader of the opposition Tory group, said: “This budget contains one bit of good news for Harrow residents; the council tax freeze, which is entirely the result of extra money coming in from the Conservative-led coalition government.

“The rest of the budget, however, is a terrifying return to the Harrow Labour budgets of old; overly optimistic economic assumptions, huge non-specific ‘procurement’ savings, an enormous £5.5 million funding gap that apparently shrunk to zero between December’s draft budget and now, and cuts and savings decisions with precious little detail behind the numbers so we can’t see what their impact will be.”