Care complaints at Norfolk County Council to be focus of independent audit

Harold Bodmer, executive director of community services at Norfolk County Council. Photo: Bill Smit

Harold Bodmer, executive director of community services at Norfolk County Council. Photo: Bill Smith. - Credit: Archant © 2009

An independent audit is to investigate claims Norfolk County Council has breached its statutory duties in caring for disabled people.

Campaign group Equal Lives has complained to the Care Quality Commission urging them to investigate what it claims are systematic failures by those at County Hall and a disregard for its statutory duties under the Care Act.

The row centres upon the use of personal budgets, a scheme introduced in 2008 and used by more than 4,000 people with a disability, age related condition or chronic illness, with the aim of giving them more choice over how their needs are met.

It is claimed that as the council has carried out budget cuts, many disabled people in Norfolk have seen the money they get to spend on care cut by up to 30pc and in some cases support completely withdrawn.

Harold Bodmer, the council's executive director of community services, said the authority was taking the complaint seriously and was setting up an independent review.

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He told members of the council's adult social care committee: 'We strongly refute that we are in breach of the Care Act, but we are looking and have looked in detail at the cases and have responded to the complaint.

'As part of that we have approached the Local Government Association, who have agreed to fund an independent external audit.'

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Mr Bodmer added a member of council staff was to work at the office of Equal Lives to 'improve channels of communication'.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Equal Lives said he welcomed the attempt to forge a better relationship, but the issues initially complained about remained.

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