The welfare of 300 of Poole’s most vulnerable residents is being put at risk in a bid to balance the books. That’s the fear after the Borough of Poole voted to scrap adult social care for all but those whose needs are “substantial” or “critical”.

Raising the criteria will affect 300 residents whose needs are considered “moderate” and save £43,000.

Liberal Democrats slated the move and voted against it at full council, while Conservatives also spoke out against it but reluctantly voted it in.

Cllr Charles Meachin called for the change in eligibility for care to be rejected. The Lib Dem said: “Moving the eligibility will create a greater need sooner. It won’t save money.”

Cllr Mike Brooke, Lib Dem group leader, said the charity Mencap had voiced concerns that it would hit people with learning difficulties and mental health problems the most.

“Nobody in this chamber wants this to happen,” said Conservative Cllr Karen Rampton. “This council has to be congratulated that it has managed to keep the eligibility for moderate for much longer than most other councils.”

Cllr Roger Gregory said: “People have to look after themselves to a certain extent. Unfortunately I will have to vote for it because I think it’s the only way forward.”

Cllr Don Collier said: “I’m very sorry we have to do this. We have to balance the books, otherwise we won’t be able to provide care for anybody.”

Independent Cllr David Gillard said: “We should be looking at other places to cut the budget before we do it in social services.”

Cllr Elaine Atkinson, previously cabinet portfolio holder for social services, now council leader, said: “I have resisted having to go to this level for many, many years.”

She said everybody receiving social care would be reassessed before changes were made.