Those in charge of social care in East Renfrewshire have said services are in “dire straits” due to a funding crisis.

The admission was made as controversial plans to slash the local social care budget by £7million were approved.

As revealed by the Barrhead News earlier this week, help is now set to be prioritised, meaning those deemed to be 'lower risk' could miss out.

Officials have said current funding is “just not sufficient to deliver the same level of service.”

Introducing a ‘supporting people framework’ which will see each individual’s needs assessed and categorised is expected to save £3.2m.

Further cuts will see 18 jobs lost, while several services are currently being reviewed as part of a planned £2m savings package.

These include commissioned services (£225,000), care at home (£200,000), Kirkton Day Centre (£72,000) and Connor Road supported housing for young people (£60,000).

The area’s Integration Joint Board (IJB) – a partnership between East Renfrewshire Council and the NHS which runs health and social care services locally – aims to manage staff cuts through “vacant posts and natural turnover.”

A funding shortfall meant savings were needed to pass a balanced budget when board members met on Wednesday.

Anne-Marie Monaghan, who chairs the IJB, said the board is “in dire straits.”

“We are in the position we are in, whatever the political reasons," she added. "Those are the policies of the government of our land and the decisions made by our local government.

“We are left to get on with it and I think that’s what we need to do. They make the decisions, we get the money and we have to do the best we can with the money that we have.”

Lesley Bairden, chief financial officer at East Renfrewshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), which is directed by the IJB, said the board is now faced with the “harsh reality” of rolling out prioritisation of care.

She added: “I think for us to be able to deliver the ‘supporting people framework’ and deliver the level of cost reductions required, along with full delivery of all savings, challenging is too easy a word.”

The new policy is expected to begin from April 1 and apply to all adults, older adults and children with a disability who access social care.

It will not apply to children and young people where there are “care/welfare concerns” or young people leaving care.

Eligibility will be split into four categories – critical, substantial, moderate and low.

A council spokesman previously confirmed support where needs are considered to be low will no longer be provided.

Low level has been identified as “some quality of life issues but low risks to an individual’s independent living or health and wellbeing, with very limited, if any, requirement for the provision of social care services.”

People will instead be given advice on how to access other services – or families may be asked to provide support.

Councillor Katie Pragnell, who represents Clarkston, Netherlee and Williamwood for Labour, said she believes the financial position is due to “poor funding settlements” from central government.

“No matter how we frame it, these cuts are going to have devastating effects on our residents and we have to do the best to mitigate this,” she added.

Julie Murray, chief officer of East Renfrewshire HSCP, said the new framework tries to “reflect the difficult situation we are in but doing it in a way that actually reflects our values.”

She added: “I think it is really important for us to be clear to our public what they can expect and also to give a set of guidelines for staff to protect them in some of the conversations they are having with people, because it’s going to be quite difficult.

“The modelling suggests we will stop funding support for people with low levels of need. That’s not necessarily what we will do. We need to do individual reviews because it may be that a little bit of money can actually prevent people from needing more support.

“We also hope there might be more efficiencies in some of the more expensive care packages. We will have to review everything we do and ensure we are getting the most efficient use from our funding.”