THERE are fears disabled people could be forced out of their homes and into residential care centres due to county council spending cuts.

About 2,000 residents with severe disabilities get around-the-clock care in Worcestershire, which includes flexible visits at home and 24-hour support for tasks such as dressing, washing and feeding.

But Worcestershire County Council says the costs are too high and moving severely disabled people into care homes will save it £500,000 over the next four years.

From now on, all new service users will be offered alternatives such as living in care homes or ‘cluster’ flats, with on-call nursing.

The changes, agreed at a meeting last week, will mean that anyone currently receiving the package will be faced with the decision to go into a home if their needs “escalate” and are deemed to be too expensive to maintain at home.

At-home support will be generally avoided unless families can contribute to the costs, or in cases where it is cheaper than a residential care home.

Jacky Payton, co-chair of the Worcestershire Coalition for Independent Living, said: “This has the potential to restrict choice and goes against the ethos of independent living.

“It is difficult to see how it will not force people into residential care.”

The county council’s community care package has cost taxpayers £11 million in the last six years.

More than 100 current users' needs cost more than £52,000-a-year each, with one disabled person’s bill spiralling to £232,000 in just 12 months.

The county council’s cabinet member for adult social care, councillor Philip Gretton, said: “We recognise this is a complex subject which is why we have to be clear what it is and importantly what it is not.

“This is about supporting people to live the lives they want to live, which is often in their own homes, more cost effectively, for example looking at whether direct payments or modern technology can meet people's care needs at less cost.”

He stressed that is is not about forcing people from their own homes and into care against their will.