An alarm has been sounded over the future of health and social care in Renfrewshire with a near £35 million budget gap on the horizon.

The chasm could stretch to £34.984m within years as financial pressures facing the health and social care partnership (HSCP) show no signs of relenting.

Councillor Iain McMillan, member of the integration joint board (IJB) – the body responsible for oversight of the HSCP – has warned recent cuts to services, including a decision to close Montrose Care Home in Paisley, may only be the beginning.

The Labour group leader, who represents Johnstone South and Elderslie, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s extremely concerning.

“We’ve seen how controversial the cuts were this year, but I don’t think that’s anything compared with what they’re going to be in future years.

“With figures like that, you’ve really got to hit your services hard to balance the books. This is huge amounts of money.

“What are services going to be like when you have to make £10m, £15m or £20m worth of savings?

“I don’t think the services that we have just now are going to exist in two or three years’ time – unless there is a total rethink in how we fund our public services.

“At the moment, we’ve upset so many people with cutting services, cutting care homes, and the future of learning disability day centres being in doubt, but it looks as if that’s only the beginning.”

More than £7m of reserves have been used to plug the deficit and secure a balanced budget for 2024/25 after the move was agreed at the IJB on Friday, March 22.

However, a gap of approximately £11.835m is estimated for 2025/26, before the £34.984m predicted in 2026/27.

The situation is so severe that the IJB could have to implement financial recovery measures in the coming years.

Sarah Lavers, the HSCP’s chief finance officer, explained what this meant at last month’s meeting of the IJB.

She said: “It is basically a slowdown of any new expenditure and that’s the position that we would find ourselves in, which is not one that anybody particularly wants to find themselves in at all.”

When contacted by the LDRS this week, an HSCP spokesperson said: “Similar to many integration joint boards across Scotland, Renfrewshire faces significant budgetary challenges.

“This position is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, requiring the IJB to make increasingly complex and difficult decisions.

“HSCP officers are continuing to work hard to identify areas where we can make proposals for the IJB’s consideration on how it can safely address the current budget gap, reflecting our focus on navigating budget challenges while ensuring we meet the needs of our most vulnerable service users.”