CAMPAIGNERS opposed to swingeing government cuts and the privatisation of public services demonstrated outside Poole Civic Centre this evening.

Around 20 Bournemouth & Poole Anti-Cuts Coalition members, who think Borough of Poole could be reducing its budget for care provision, gathered ahead of the evening’s full council meeting.

Carer and group coalition member Shelley Wilson told the Daily Echo: “At the moment we have letters from private companies saying they’re cutting wages because local authorities are cutting their budgets, but I have not got it clarified that local authorities here, in Bournemouth, Poole or Dorset, have done this. We will have to wait and see.”

Poole’s adult social care cabinet member, Cllr Karen Rampton, said the majority of the town’s residents fund their own care, and that the council is only “responsible for funding a very small portion of the care market”.

The councillor added: “The council does not control the business end of the private care sector but the wellbeing and safety of all our residents is paramount.”

The Anti-Cuts Coalition says Borough of Poole is one of a number of local authorities identified by private care providers as reducing its budget.

Campaigners say this can have the knock-on effect of lowered wages for carers. “Unimaginable a few years ago, private care providers nationally are now slashing staff wages by up to 50 per cent,” said a coalition spokesman.

“If carers refuse the cut they are being dismissed and re-engaged at a lower rate.” The spokesman said many carers had been forced out of jobs they loved and worked in for decades.

He added: “Now 40 per cent of the cuts have been rolled out nationally, many people in receipt of care or working as a carer are being subjected to loss of benefits, mobility cars, day care and many carers facing this cut in their wage.”

Cllr Rampton stressed the council is committed to providing the best levels of care and monitors services to ensure high standards.