Bryan Sanderson, the council's outgoing chairman, told an education and skills select committee this week that any reduction in spending would lead to "severe choices" on which courses could no longer be funded.
He said: "My concern is that the people who are going to suffer the most are at the lower end of the (attainment) spectrum.
"These are the very people we are trying to bring back into education, and it would be very sad."
Mr Sanderson branded as "disgraceful" the lack of basic skills, which he said was often linked to poor health, drug dependency and criminality. He also criticised the abolition of Training and Enterprise Councils, a move which he said had upset business leaders.
"I would not have abolished TECs because they had engaged local businesses and it had a negative effect on business people.
"These people are hard to get into the education system and once we have them, it is best not to change things too radically," he told the committee.
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