Cuts proposed by the health and social care partnership in Argyll will create unprecedented challenges for local organisations
The voluntary sector’s vital role in providing health and social care services for vulnerable people in Argyll and Bute is under threat due to potential funding cuts.
A £11.9 million budget shortfall has been identified in the official, ongoing Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership consultation, but the body is being warned that cuts in expenditure have created the most worrying time ever experienced by the sector.
The warning comes from Kirsteen Murray, chief executive of the Third Sector Interface (TSI) in Argyll and Bute, who said organisations feel at risk.
She said: “Many third sector organisations involved in providing this vital support don’t even know if they will be funded at all from 1 April onwards. It is a real cause for concern.
“Others feel that after many years of stand-still funding, or funding not keeping pace with demand, their organisations will simply no longer be viable unless something radically changes.
“As April rapidly approaches this is a deeply worrying time for the third sector and dedicated staff.”
Murray said there is an urgent need for HSCP to declare what services were going to continue in 2020/21 and to issue a very firm commitment to fully fund the services it wants to continue offering vulnerable people in Argyll and Bute in the year ahead.
Before Christmas, HSCP providers received a letter explaining that the partnership faces considerable challenges in balancing its budget for the year 2020/21.
The letter was explicit, stating: “This means that tough decisions may have to be made about even the most valued services”.
Murray said: “Severe cuts will affect the level of service the provider organisations can offer to the people relying on them and in some cases could mean that third sector organisations have to cease operations. Given the dire state of HSCP finances the third sector urgently needs a clear picture of what its role is going to be. In the next financial year.”
A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership said: "We deliver a wide range of health and social care services to local communities across Argyll and Bute and work closely with our partners and stakeholders. At the same time however, the resources available to the HSCP are declining in real terms year on year and we therefore have to find efficiencies and transform how we operate. As part of this process we are currently undergoing a budget consultation with staff, patients, carers, partners and the wider community and the outcome of this will be reported to our board in due course."