BASILDON Council spending cuts are set to hit services for disabled people and repairs to community centres.

The council is looking at making cuts to four schemes to save £505,000 from its capital programme and reduce the amount of interest it pays on loans.

Phil Turner, councillor responsible for resources, has confirmed a scheme which lends disabled people as much as £10,000 to make life at home easier is one of four areas likely to be targeted.

Another is the £200,000-a-year budget for renovation and repair grants to people who own their own homes, but need help maintaining them.

The £75,000 annual budget for disability access work on council buildings is also a prime target, as is £50,000 set aside for repairs to community centres and public halls.

The council has spent a good deal in recent years on disabled facilities in its buildings and the council has promised it will still fund important projects as they arise.

The disabled facilities grant system stands to lose £280,000 a year from its budget.

Under the system, the cost of the work, such as the installation of shower wet rooms and stairlifts, is paid back by residents over time, or recouped if the residents sell up within ten years.

The programme will continue to receive £420,000 Government funding a year, but the council is set to stop topping this up to meet local demand.

Stuart Kirk, from the organisation Disability Essex, said the cuts were regrettable, but understandable in the current financial climate.

He added: “We have to recognise central Government is running out of money and local councils are short as well. Everybody is having to tighten their belts.

“Regrettable as the consequences are, councils have to prioritise whatever money they have got and we have to prioritise whatever money we have.”

The capital funding programme is largely funded by Government grants, cash from partner organisations and money the council gets from selling assets.

However, it has topped this up in the past by borrowing money.

Last February, the council agreed it would borrow £615,000 a year for the next decade for this purpose. Rising loan rates now mean this would cost the council £300,000 a year in interest Axeing the four schemes would help reduce this borrowing to £110,000 a year.

The proposals have been agreed by the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday, but have yet to go to the cabinet for final approval.