DESPITE increasing demand on adult care services, council leaders say they are confident of meeting tough budget demands without resorting to heavy cuts.

The overall budget for care for the elderly and those with learning difficulties is set to increase in the next financial year by £600,000, but not by enough to meet the increased need from a growing population.

As a result, the department is being asked to find significant savings to cope with the difference and it is hoped the council’s policy of trying to reduce the number of users in residential care will avoid major cuts.

Figures for this year’s budget preidct the cost of elderly care will rise by more than £2 million. This has been calculated from the latest population figures, analysis of recent activities and, for adults with learning difficulties, the number of children moving through the system.

Residential care is the most expensive type, so by offering packages which allow people to remain at home council bosses say not only can people retain a degree of independence but the cost is reduced.

Coun Brian Mattock (Con, Old Town), cabinet member for health and social care, saidit will avoid a major service reduction and users will not see a significant change. He said: “Demand for services is going up year-on-year and we cannot keep carrying on the way we are. There has to be a move away from a reliance on residential care. What is very important to emphasise is we are not getting rid of any staff.

“These reductions are a result of an aim over a number of years to reduce the number of people going into residential care.

“I think this is a positive move which will not only save money but also increase the independence of people.

“We are confident we can deliver on these savings because, although we cannot predict what may happen in the future, in the last two years we hit budget.”

Giving people more independence has been backed by the Swindon Older People’s Forum but they say those at home should receive the support they need.

Chairman David Brown said: “Increasing independence is a positive thing but it should be done for moral and philosophical reasons rather than simply to save money.

“If genuine savings can be made that is great, but we must make sure people who are not living in residential care are given all the support they need.”