CHARITIES running day centres for the elderly and disabled have been thrown a temporary lifeline as they brace for multi-million pound funding cuts.

Oxfordshire County Council has announced £306,000 of 'transition funding' for 41 of 47 existing services, which will allow them to continue running until at least March 2018.

It comes before a £3.14m cut that will reduce the number of council-funded day centres from 22 to eight from October and drastically cut the amount provided to charities.

Age UK, one of the largest providers of daytime services for the elderly, welcomed the temporary cash but warned it would lead to higher charges for users, cost-cutting measures and a greater reliance on fundraising to balance the books.

The county council insists it can no longer afford the existing £9.3m service. It has proposed a new service of eight 'bases', only for elderly and disabled people entitled to social care support, to put it on a 'solid footing'.

But Penny Thewlis, Age UK Oxfordshire acting chief executive, warned many organisations that would struggle under the changes.

She said: "There are several village-based centres that are going to find this situation very difficult, because the transition money is not a huge amount.

"What it will do is buy many organisations time to come up with a strategy to sustain the centres.

"At our clubs, we are going to have to ask people to pay more and do a lot of fundraising.

"Sadly, this is part of a bigger trend where communities are being asked to shoulder more of the costs for community services – but have to make the best of it."

Ms Thewlis said Age UK was merging two of its centres in Oxford and would likely increase daily user charges from £10 to £15 to compensate for the cuts.

Cash support provided to it, covering the period of September 2017 to March 2018, will fall by 60 per cent under the agreement with the county council.

Like other organisations which have received temporary support, Age UK will also be required to submit another plan in November to propose how its services can become self-funding.

The county council said only six services did not bid for transition cash. These were Alzheimer’s Day Support in Abingdon, Bampton Bush Day Centre, Fielding Lunch Club, Lake House in Adderbury, the Open Access self-help group, and the Tryard Disability Group.

Under the changes in autumn, the council will only run eight centres, in Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Didcot, Oxford, Wallingford, Witney and Wantage.

But Rachael Scott-Hunter, from Chesterton, said the arrangement would be 'catastrophic' for some users.

She and husband Ian care for their wheelchair-bound daughter Alexandra, 44, who had a brain haemorrhage after being born and now suffers from a series of severe disabilities.

The changes will mean she will no longer be able to attend a day centre in Kidlington and must instead go to one in Bicester, separating her friends and staff she has grown used to, Mrs Scott-Hunter said.

The 70-year-old said: "It is going to have a massive effect on her wellbeing.

"I just can't come to terms with it. It is awful."

Judith Heathcoat, the council's cabinet member for adult social care, is expected to sign off the transition proposals next Wednesday.

Council spokesman Paul Smith said: "The council is continuing to provide a core service for people who are eligible for social care support, which makes sure they have the care and support they need."