UNION leaders have raised fears that a review into adult services could lead to more privatisation.

Unison leaders say members at Brighton and Hove City Council have heard of “well-advanced” plans to privatise a number of council services.

They have warned council bosses that their thousands of members “will not accept privatisation” of essential services.

Council leader Jason Kitcat said he was looking into the issue “with concern” and said he hoped a solution would be found to provide the best services possible for staff and residents by working together.

Unison branch secretary Alex Knutsen claims that council executives have been ordered to look at “anything and everything” that could be cut as they attempt to balance an estimated funding shortfall of £25 million in next year’s budget.

Mr Knutsen said an independent team from outside the council will review the authority’s learning disability service as the first step towards privatisation.

Plans to transfer seven council-run supported living homes and flats for up to 43 adults with learning disabilities were withdrawn in June after outrage from union leaders.

Councillor Kitcat called for a review into the service, saying that it was important not to review current provisions in a “piecemeal way”.

But now union officials fear this could open the door for further, more wide-ranging privatisation proposals.

Mr Knutsen said his union had learnt that contracted refurbishment work at adult and children’s centres had been “inexplicably” halted, raising fears over their futures.

The union claims work at rehabilitation services for the elderly at Knoll House and Wayfield Avenue in Hove had stopped, along with scheduled work at Tarner Children’s Centre and Tudor House, a residential unit for children with severe learning disabilities in Brighton.

Mr Knutsen said: “Our members, in all these establishments and in the wider branch, supported by the vast majority of the citizens of the city, will not accept privatisation of essential services.

“The Government and successive administrations told us that “frontline” services would be protected – we will now hold them to that promise.”

Coun Kitcat said: “We are looking into the issues Unison raise with concern.

“Councils are experiencing unprecedented demand for services like social care, while on the receiving end of savage Government cuts to our funding.

“I hope we can find a way through these difficulties together to get the best services possible for residents and staff.”