New personal budget target to be missed by Norfolk County Council

Council bosses have admitted they are likely to lose a race against time to get elderly and vulnerable people across Norfolk entitled to social services care signed up to new personal budgets.

Norfolk County Council, like all authorities across the country, was given a target that at least 60pc of people eligible for social services support should have personal budgets by April this year.

Personal budgets are a new way for people eligible for social services care - such as those with disabilities, age-related conditions and chronic illnesses - to get care.

Rather than spend the money they are entitled to on traditional services, such as day centres, they can use the budget on whatever they want, so long as social services agrees it will improve independence, quality of life and well-being.

But the authority missed the April target, although its figure of 43.8pc of people on personal budgets was above the national average of 42.3pc.

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And, with the Department of Health setting a national target that all eligible service users and carers with ongoing needs must have a personal budget by next April, the council has admitted that is not achievable.

The council acknowledges there have been difficulties in getting people switched across to the personal budgets and a report which will come before councillors next Tuesday outlines how the council is trying to reduce red tape to make it easier for people to switch.

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A spokeswoman said: 'Most important in making this kind of change is going at a pace that is right for the people receiving our care.

'The change from the traditional way of providing care to transferring people onto a personal budget is a bit like the difference between choosing from a set menu in one restaurant to choosing from a whole range of dishes and restaurants.

'We've done a great deal of work to get us to where we are in Norfolk. This includes altering job roles within the department and retraining staff, creating a team to support care providers to adjust and reviewing the care services that are impacted by people transferring onto personal budgets and changing these as necessary.'

However, the pressure on the council to get people signed up could be eased. The Department of Health has recognised the 100pc target by next April is a tall order.

A council spokeswoman said: 'This target is currently being reviewed by the Department of Health and we believe it may change.

'However the target as it currently stands is not an achievable one for us, nor will it be for the vast majority of councils with responsibility for providing social care.'

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