Home care privatisation plan put on hold

A decision to privatise home care support for thousands of elderly people, has been put on temporary hold to allow for more public debate.Members of Norfolk County Council's ruling cabinet were set to rubberstamp the plans behind closed doors on Monday.

A decision to privatise home care support for thousands of elderly people, has been put on temporary hold to allow for more public debate.

Members of Norfolk County Council's ruling cabinet were set to rubberstamp the plans behind closed doors on Monday.

But yesterday the council said it wanted to reschedule the decision until April 30 to allow for more public discussion, while the vote would now be held in public session.

Members of Unison, which was set to hold a protest demonstration against the plans, are urging the ruling Tory administration not to press ahead with the proposal, which they insist will see pay and pension cuts for hundreds of carers.

Currently around 6,000 people a week receive a visit from a carer offering a range of help and support from feeding, bathing, dressing and lifting.

But with demand set to increase by 12pc by 2012, and by 45pc a decade later, County Hall is looking at ways of maintaining the same levels of service while relieving the pressure on the public purse.

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Under the favoured option being considered by the authority, the 50-50 split would change to 20pc of support hours provided in-house and 80pc of hours by the private sector.

But the move has sparked anger among unions, particularly plans to save £4.55m in staff costs by avoiding transfer rules known as “TUPE” which would honour carers' current pay and conditions.

While the opposition Labour groups favours an alternative not-for-profit social enterprise model.