Care campaign to save services for Norfolk’s elderly launched in Norwich

Charity bosses say they have printed 4,000 extra postcards after receiving strong support for their campaign to save care services.

Age UK Norfolk and Age UK Norwich officially launched their Cut Cake Not Care campaign yesterday at Tesco in Ipswich Road, Norwich.

The two independent charities are hoping to persuade Norfolk County Council to think again about its proposals to reduce preventative care service funding by �11 million in the next two years.

The groups say these services are essential to spotting the early signs of illness and stop the elderly needing more expensive care in the future.

People are being encouraged to fill-in postcards for the campaign, which will then be sent to the relevant county councillor to make sure they have thought through their decision.

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Hilary MacDonald, chief executive of Age UK Norfolk, said: 'We are getting a fantastic response. Yesterday we ordered our third print run of postcards which brings the total to 10,000.

'We certainly don't mind if we have to do another. The important thing for us is we really highlight the difficulties cutting care will make to older people in Norfolk. It's a big ask at a time of severe economic turmoil.

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'We are realistic but they should not be made to older, vulnerable people in Norfolk. Preventative services are so important and we want the council to think again.'

Mrs MacDonald said they wanted a sustainable system created to protect these services in the future.

She said: 'That may seem very strange in light of the economic problems we have but it's almost investing to save.

'If we don't do that, we will find more and more older people relying on acute services.

'It makes no economic sense for the county council to cut prevention.'

One of the charity's biggest concerns is the proposed �185,000 cut to the Quality Assurance Service, which monitors social care standards.

This is being suggested at a time of transition for thousands of Norfolk residents.

The government wants control of care cash to be removed from local authorities and handed over to individuals, in the form of personal budgets, by April 2013. More than 6,000 people are currently using this system in the county.

Mrs MacDonald added: 'The campaign support is so encouraging. It says to us that in Norfolk we care about our older population. We want to keep building on it. It's not a week-long campaign. We will campaign for as long as it takes and certainly we will do all we can to encourage people to fill out the postcards.'

Phil Wells, chief executive of Age UK Norwich, said: 'I think people are going to get the message. Most people go through life not needing social care and it's really important that people understand it's about us all being in it together. We don't need to make it worse for people who need care.'

BBC Radio Norfolk's Helen McDermott lent her support to yesterday's launch and said: 'We are very lucky to have Age UK Norfolk and Age UK Norwich here to work on behalf of older people and that's why I support them - as I am getting on as well.'

Norfolk County Council has said it needs to develop how it delivers adult social care - but that does not automatically mean it will be providing a poorer service.

Officials at the authority say they are confident they can improve standards and provide the necessary guarantees of quality to reassure people who use the services.

Councillor David Harwood, cabinet member for adult and community services, previously told the EDP: 'As an authority, we have less money to spend and more people to look after but I want to reassure people that our approach in finding the savings required of us hasn't been to simply cut services - as the campaign points out, to do this would be a false economy and leave more people in Norfolk at greater risk.'

The council says it is creating a �1.5 million preventative fund to help groups and individuals. It adds care budgets will increase by �27m in the next three years.

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