The Third Sector’s vital role in providing health and social care services for vulnerable people in Argyll and Bute is under threat because of a funding crisis within the local Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).
A £11.9 million budget shortfall has been identified in the official, ongoing HSCP consultation but cuts in expenditure are creating the most worrying time ever experienced by the Third Sector.
The warning comes from Kirsteen Murray, Chief Executive of the Third Sector Interface (TSI) in Argyll and Bute, who said: “Many Third Sector organisations involved in providing this vital support don’t even know if they will be funded at all from 1st 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 1st April rapidly approaches this is a deeply worrying time for the Third Sector and dedicated staff.”
Ms Murray said there was 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 did face 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”.
Ms 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.”