A consultancy firm looks set to be paid more than £6m to help transform the way Norfolk looks after vulnerable people.

But the move has been criticised by opposition councillors, who say it is a way to use private consultants to cut services.

Norfolk County Council bosses say bringing in Newton Europe as strategic partners to assist County Hall's own staff in changing how adult social care is provided could save £55m over five years.

However the council says the company, which, last year, was paid to carry out a "forensic analysis" of prevention and front door services in adult social care, can help drive change needed by a department which is under pressure.

Such changes include identifying issues which could lead to a care being needed more rapidly - keeping people independent and reducing spending on home and residential care.

The council says a transformed approach would see services tailored to people, including using voluntary organisations to assist with community support and utlising technology to help them stay in their homes.

Newton Europe's analysis last year showed 49pc of people who sought help from the council had the "potential" to have their need prevented, reduced or delayed.

The Oxfordshire-based company has previously helped Northamptonshire County Council, Royal Borough of Greenwich and Leicestershire County Council with adult social care transformations.

Eastern Daily Press: Labour's Steve MorphewLabour's Steve Morphew (Image: Archant)

But Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: "I am not denying that something needs to be done, but I wouldn't be spending £6m on consultants to say what is blindingly obvious. They need to be talking to the service users."

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

Tim Adams, Liberal Democrat group adult social care spokesman, said: "It is not the answer to the adult social care crisis across Norfolk. The quality of social care needs to be fixed first. The proposal is to use private efficiency consultants to help deliver cuts."

Norfolk County Council's Conservative-controlled cabinet will decide whether to agree the partnership with Newton Europe when it meets on Wednesday (January 12).