Wiltshire Council says it had no alternative but to pass on the loss of government cash to Stepping Stones and three other specialist nurseries in the county.

Matthew Look, lead commissioner for disabled children, said: “We recognise the excellent work that is being carried out by these charities and it is excellent they are able to add value by raising money with the help of the community. We are pleased to continue their level of funding at the same rate as last year – minus the central government grant.”

The council reviewed the service and feedback from parents and professionals had shown they were happy with it.

But he said the council did not have the resource to make up the shortfall left by the withdrawal of the government grant. The decision was made by officers and did go to committee for approval.

He said the council is funding the centres for three years, but there is no guarantee on how much cash will be given beyond 2014/15.