Campaigners have handed in a 900-signature petition to the Council to stop planned changes to the criteria for assessing whether people with needs would get homecare in the future.

Claims that upping criteria to strip away help with everyday essential tasks from people with 'moderate' needs would bring about earlier unnecessary deaths, came at a showdown meeting between high-ranking council leaders and social care campaigners in the city yesterday.

In a no-holds barred confrontation, supporters of the Bradford Cares campaign insisted giving help only to people who ticked all the boxes with ‘substantial’ or ‘critical’ needs would cost the Council's cash-stricken budget more than it would save it and be nothing more than false economy.

A Bradford Cares consultation carried out by the Liberal Democrats among carers and clients highlighted strong fears that being deprived of help would drive up loneliness resulting in more isolation, worse health and earlier deaths.

The petition against any criteria changes was handed to Council leader David Green during the meeting by Cath Stevenson, chairman of the Bradford & District Disabed People's Forum.

The Bradford Cares campaign and petition, which has won support from the Forum as well as charities Scope, Age UK and the British Red Cross, was started by the city's Liberal Democrats after reports that home carers in the city were being given just 15 minute slots for each visit.

The meeting at Carlisle Business Centre heard that a report on Fair Access to Care changes was still being finalised before it goes to the Council's Executive for a decision in October.

Jean Walker MBE who is chairman of Bradford Older People's Alliance pleaded with Coun Green to get his officers to look elsewhere to make cuts in services. She said: “There is no such thing as moderate care. If you need care, you need care. For goodness sake look at other things that don’t affect peoples’ lives as much as this, things that people can cope with easier.”

Paul Anderson from Bradford & District Disabled People's Forum said: “Listen to what we say. Do not change the criteria,” adding: “Feedback from our consultations provides evidence the council's arguments for care cuts is unsound and would cost more in the long-term. It would be a false economy.”

Coun Green, who was accompanied by Coun Amir Hussain executive member responsible for adult services and Coun Mike Gibbons who is chairman of the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, stressed no decision had been made and the report was still being finalised.

He said: “We are trying to make sure the options that go to Executive are right and substantial and will all stack up in terms of finance but more importantly in terms of what support the council will provide in the future."

He also said no one would be “just cut off” from getting the help they were already receiving because needs would be assessed.