PLANS to abolish community coordinators look set to be approved by the Isle of Wight Council — despite claims the service saves the authority money.

Opposition councillors tonight questioned the cabinet about the recommendation to axe the service next March, and to accept no more new referrals from this Thursday.

Currently, 600 people are using the service, which supports people in the community and aims to prevent the need for further adult social care intervention.

Revised recommendations state the council would review all active cases and transition users to other services.

The Living Well service would be expanded with a review of the Local Area Coordinator (LAC) service overseen by cabinet member, Clare Mosdell.

Scrutiny councillors voted to reccomend to cabinet the proposals had not been drawn up based on full evidence, and the decision should be put on hold.

Council leader, Dave Stewart said the LAC service was only used by seven per cent of councils in the UK.

Newchurch chair and Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils representative, Cllr June Davison, said: “A new study published by Southampton Solent University has said for every pound invested, four pounds are saved for the Isle of Wight Council.”

The service is funded from the public health budget, costing £400,000 a year. Isle of Wight Council chief executive, John Metcalfe, said this budget had been reduced by £600,000 since 2015.

Cllr Karl Love said: “We have not heard any criticism from anyone about this service. If we wanted to find the money, we would find the money from somewhere else.”

Cllr Debbie Andre said: “This vital service, it’s possible for it to be self-funded but if the service is closed, it will just stop.”

Cllr Mosdell said: “What we are really looking for here is community resilience.

“The LAC is a licence, it can’t be manipulated in the way you want, it can’t be tweaked.

“When other services were set up around the country, they knew how they were going to be community funded, perhaps with money from the police and so on. But we can’t go back to those people again because they have already asked.”

Cllr Mosdell said no savings would be taken from the public health budget, but the money saved would be put into other services — including sexual health and drug and alcohol services.

She said: “What we need to look at doing is being decent human beings. We need to build community.”

Chief executive of Community Catalysts — which hosts the national network of LAC programmes — Sian Lockwood said the service did not operate under a licence.

She said: “It is just guidance. We would not kick the Isle of Wight out of the service if they wanted to change the terms of operation.

“However, the guidance given is to ensure best practice and getting the most value for money.

“These LACs are embedded in the community and are able to reach and help people who otherwise might not be accessing services. Other services recommended by the council are different, and might not be able to reach people with really complex needs.”

Ms Lockwood said the service saved the council money in the long run, as it helped people before they reached the point of medical intervention.

She said: “It helps out people who, in three years time perhaps, without support, will crash into service, perhaps they will have a mental health breakdown, and will suddenly be relying on services.”

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Mosdell said no vulnerable Islanders would be abandoned by the council, following the removal of the service.

She said: “There is a limited amount of money available. I am really looking to build that community resilience.”

She said a certain amount of ‘poetic license’ had been used  by Community Catalysts and invited them to expand on their figures — which claim the service has saved each authority £500,000.

She said: “At the end of the day, the study was based on 21 people, and I have to look after 140,000 Islanders.”

The plans will go before cabinet on Thursday.