The crisis in the county's care sector is being compounded by a shortage of affordable homes for workers, the senior officer in charge has said.

James Bullion, Norfolk County Council director of adult social care, warned the industry was struggling to attract staff to fill vacancies, partly because of a lack of suitable housing.

Eastern Daily Press: James Bullion, Norfolk County Council director of adult social careJames Bullion, Norfolk County Council director of adult social care (Image: Norfolk County Council)

The problem is particularly acute in north Norfolk, which has some of the largest numbers of people needing care as well as some of the most expensive housing, with one in 10 properties a second home.

"North Norfolk is particularly difficult to recruit to," Mr Bullion said.

"Getting people to come to Norfolk and stay in Norfolk after completing their social work degree or MA at the University of East Anglia is one of our big challenges.

"Housing is part of that - it is a big challenge. If you are coming up from London to work in Norfolk, the key thing you are not sure of is where to live and how to find yourself somewhere to live."

Eastern Daily Press: The care needs of more than 200 people in Norfolk are not being fully metThe care needs of more than 200 people in Norfolk are not being fully met (Image: Unison)

Mr Bullion was speaking at a County Hall meeting to discuss Norfolk's 'interim care' list - people not getting all their social care needs met.

For instance, they might need home care visits three times a day, but, due to staff shortages, only two can currently can be provided, so a family member might be stepping in to help with the third.

New figures show 221 people are on that list.

Of those, 107 are in north Norfolk.

Mr Bullion said there were 97 vacancies within the council's own 640-strong social care department.

He said the council was having to pay more than the going rate to private providers in north Norfolk because it was so tough to recruit there.

The interim care list has dropped significantly since April last year, when 780 people were on it.

Mr Bullion said the council works with other local authorities to identify housing suitable for social workers, but it is not always possible.

He added: "We are looking at how we can have a relationship with a housing provider that links the person with rented housing initially where their wages will cover the rent."

Eastern Daily Press: Alison Thomas, Conservative county and district councillor for Long StrattonAlison Thomas, Conservative county and district councillor for Long Stratton (Image: Archant)

But Conservative councillor Alison Thomas, who represents Long Stratton at County Hall and on South Norfolk Council, said: "I know the housing sector is massively, massively over-subscribed.

"Much as we would like to say we'd keep a proportion of affordable homes for key workers, we are actually only able to put people on our emergency list into homes, so there is a massive pressure there."

One in 10 homes in north Norfolk are second homes, which North Norfolk District Council leader Tim Adams has previously branded as "out of control".

Eastern Daily Press: Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District CouncilTim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council (Image: Supplied by the Liberal Democrats)

Mr Adams wants to use an extra council tax levy on second home owners and on owners of empty homes to help get an increased number of affordable homes built in the area.

Eastern Daily Press: More affordable housing is needed in Norfolk, say leadersMore affordable housing is needed in Norfolk, say leaders (Image: Newsquest)

Norfolk County Council recently announced plans to pump an extra £30m into care homes and helping people in their own homes, as the sector struggles with the demands of an ageing population and rising costs driven by inflation.

It comes at a time when care providers in Norfolk are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the standards expected by regulators.

As of the end of 2022, 68pc of care providers in the county were rated as either good or outstanding by the Care Quality Commission - much lower than the 82pc figure for the east of England.