WORCESTERSHIRE is “falling further behind” key regional rivals such as Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire for skills, jobs and economic growth, according to a leading council chief executive.

Trish Haines has used her annual report to say the county is facing a skills deficit which needs to be tackled urgently.

Ms Haines, chief executive at County Hall, said economic data reveals how Worcestershire has some way to go before it can truly punch above its weight.

Her annual report also insisted residents should “come together and do things for themselves” to save taxpayers money.

It states: “Our task is to support communities to come together and do things for themselves, and actively participate in delivering those services which are important to them, and which might otherwise cease through lack of funding.”

The authority has launched a scheme called Act Local, where community groups are asked to do work such as cut hedges, run youth centres and staff libraries for free.

Ms Haines said good examples of where it has worked so far include Feckenham, where a village shop is staffed by volunteers.

The council is trying to save up to £100 million by 2016 under a scheme called BOLD, known as Better Outcomes Lean Delivery.

She said: “We are going though a process of change and reduced budgets and if we don’t lead that, we’ll have a fiasco, a wreckage of services we can’t afford – that to me is the biggest challenge, and we are well placed to take it on.”