Five centres across Devon that provide day services for residents with learning disabilities look set to be closed because not a single person uses them.

A consultation into the future of the Lyric at Okehampton, Newholme in Honiton, Rosalind House in Tiverton, Silverhill in Barnstaple and Tumbly Hill in Kingsbridge was launched last November and has now recommended the centres close.

A report for Devon County Council’s cabinet meeting next week (Wednesday 13 March) says it runs 10 in-house day-care services over eight properties, but that the services proposed for closure have no people attending, other than Rosalind House, which has one attendee.

If councillors approve the closures, it is expected it will save £300,000.

While the covid pandemic led to the temporary closure of all such centres, after they opened following lockdown, attendance across the service only reached 22 per cent of pre-pandemic figures.

Furthermore, the number of people eligible to access the council’s in-house learning disability day services has reduced in recent years, dropping from 116 in 2015 to 85 in 2020. Current attendance is just 12.

Looking ahead, the council says that roughly 204 to 246 individuals with learning disabilities are likely to require day services in the next few years, and that the required provision can be “adequately met by the independent and voluntary sector”.

The council commissions 81 independent providers, and 53 of those support around 470 people with learning disabilities.

While the low attendance at the centres is also due to changes in care funding for individuals, which helps encourage greater independence by access to services and employment in the community, the council did receive concerns about the closures.

Across its five focus groups – attended by 17 people – and its online consultation – which had 21 responses – various fears were raised, including the potential of having to travel longer distances to access similar services and a lack of information about where alternative provision might be.

There were also concerns about a perceived increase in the threshold for accessing funding for day services, and worries that the level of regulation would be lower at day centres not owned or run by the council.

The council’s cabinet will decide whether to close the centres at its meeting next Wednesday.