Campaigners for disabled people fear cuts in £6.3m social care shake-up

Judith and Nick Taylor from Buxton

Judith and Nick Taylor from Buxton. - Credit: Archant

Disabled people and their parents fear a partnership which will see a consultancy firm paid £6.3m to change how adult social care is provided will mean cuts to services.

Norfolk County Council has agreed to bring in Newton Europe as strategic partners to assist County Hall's own staff in changing how adult social care is provided.

The authority believes this could save £55m over five years, but council leaders and bosses said it would also mean a better, more joined-up service, for people.

However, members of the 500-strong Disability Network Norfolk Group believed it would lead to cuts to services.

Buxton parents Nick and Judith Taylor have a son - Charlie - who has Down's syndrome.

And Mrs Taylor said: "The 500 plus members of the Disability Network Norfolk Group are absolutely outraged about this.

"We have regular meetings with the county council and have discussed certain things which are not right and they have not mentioned this to us at all.

"They need to listen to us. They say they want to work with us and had promised we'd be involved with co-production. That has happened to a certain extent, but this has not been discussed with us at all."

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Mr Taylor said: "The £6.3m is to be paid on the provision that they make savings, so if they don't make savings the company won't make money.

"I fail to see how they're going to save £55m over five years without cutting services. If the driver is savings, then the talk of improvements is just a veil."

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

The strategy was agreed at a meeting of Norfolk County Council's Conservative-controlled cabinet.

James Bullion, director of adult social care, said a focus on prevention would mean people's potential needs are identified sooner.

That, he said would help people to retain their independence for longer.

He said it would "change the culture", give people single points of contact and connect better with NHS services.

He said it was not about reducing levels of service and the amount being paid was a "reasonable cost" to bring about benefits.

Mr Bullion also said there would be co-production of the model with service users and that it would not be done from the top down.

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