Families across Moray affected by autism are pinning their hopes on a resolution in a cash row between the council and a national charity.
Scottish Autism has threatened to pull out of running residential care for those with the condition in the region unless it gets financial backing from the authority.
Talks are due to take place today between the charity and representatives of Health and Social Care Moray in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
Last night, MSP Richard Lochhead said the “bolt from the blue” announcement from Scottish Autism had created uncertainty for numerous families across the region.
The Moray representative is eager to see an amicable agreement between the parties so that the three children and one young adult who rely on 24-hour care can continue to receive it.
He said: “The many constituents who have contacted me are banking on an agreement to allow the current provision to continue.
“Families are extremely anxious given that vital support that is being provided for loved ones – they won’t know where to turn if they are withdrawn.
“People don’t know what the future holds at the moment, including the staff who provide the valued service.
“Hopefully getting round the table can result in a resolution being hammered out so Scottish Autism can continue their good work.”
The charity has threatened to pull out over accusations it is not receiving cash from the council to cover national insurance and pension payments for staff associated with the living wage increase.
Scottish Autism says that means it can no longer run the service in a financially sustainable way. The organisation currently runs for residential care units, which are in Elgin and Lossiemouth.
Buckie dad William Marandola believes the charity pulling out of Moray could result in his son Carlo no longer receiving attention from staff trained for the condition.
A Health and Social Care Moray spokesman said: “We are endeavouring to resolve the contractual issues with the charity.”