Norfolk social care cases being investigated by external auditor

Mark Harrison, front left, CEO of Equal Lives. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mark Harrison, front left, CEO of Equal Lives. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Claims that Norfolk County Council breached its statutory duties in caring for disabled people are being investigated by an external auditor.

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

The row centres upon the use of personal budgets, used by more than 4,000 people with a disability, age related condition or chronic illness.

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has carried out budget cuts, many disabled people in Norfolk have seen the money they get to spend on care cut or withdrawn.

While the council denies it is in breach, it has brought in the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to examine its processes – funded by the Local Government Association.

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A council spokesman said: 'SCIE are being asked to help the council examine the quality of current practice, guidance and procedures, and to provide the council with feedback and recommendations for next steps.'

The council said the SCIE would also be providing staff training .

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Mark Harrison, chief executive of Equal Lives, said: 'I would welcome the SCIE review if it helps implement the Care Act and make personalisation meaningful.

'However, given the culture within Norfolk and the level of resources, I'm not sure that can be achieved.

'The council is operating a social care system based on available resources, not on the legislation.

'What we want is a truly independent inspection that has teeth, which can tell Norfolk if it has breached the Care Act, where it has breached it, and what resources it can put in.'

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