A TOP politician warned last night of a cash crisis in home care.

Councillors will meet next week to find a solution to the seven-figure black hole in the Kirklees care budget.

The Labour Cabinet will decide on Tuesday how to cope with the shortfall caused by a legal challenge.

Earlier this year Kirklees Council announced plans to save £1.7m a year by reducing the number of adults it helps.

The council had provided support for people whose needs were in the highest two brackets – critical and substantial.

But Kirklees decided to remove care from those deemed to have substantial needs.

Officials then began re-assessing 11,000 adults with mental, physical and learning disabilities to decide which of them still qualified for care.

But the council stopped the cuts last month after a legal challenge from three care users in April.

Cabinet member for adults Clr Molly Walton warned last night of the budget problems in social care.

Speaking at the monthly council meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall, the Labour woman said: “We will have to look at what we’re going to do.

“We can’t leave it as it is because we don’t have the money to provide that care.”

A report to Kirklees Cabinet explains how the council’s plan unravelled when three people challenged the legality of the cuts.

It said: “Issues were raised about compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and consultation requirements.

“Following extensive legal advice, it was considered that there were insufficient grounds for a full defence of this claim.”

The council’s chief executive Adrian Lythgo reinstated the old system of providing care for both critical and substantial needs to protect Kirklees from further legal action.

Officials have asked the Cabinet to endorse this decision at its meeting in Huddersfield Town Hall at 4pm on Tuesday.

The officers’ report to Cabinet adds that 686 people had been reassessed before the U-turn.

Of these, only three had their care cut. These decisions have been reversed.

Another 181 new service users were also assessed. Forty-three of them are now being reassessed to see if they qualify for care.

Kirklees has also decided to invest an extra £1.4m in preventative work to try to reduce the demand for care.

Officers have recommended that this spending continues despite the black hole.

The report says: “The investment in prevention was intended to have limited impact in 2011/12 due to the time taken to develop and embed projects.

“However, the change to eligibility criteria was expected to make a saving of £1.7m for 2011/12.

“If, therefore, the £1.4m investment is ring-fenced for preventative services, the adult social care budget may overspend by £1.7m.”

But the report adds that the black hole may be less than this “as some of the preventative work will have an impact”.

The Labour Cabinet will meet in secret session to decide how to deal with the black hole.