Warning of ‘really tough decisions’ over care for vulnerable in Norfolk

Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services, Norfolk County Council. Picture: Denise Bradley

Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services, Norfolk County Council. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Only a radical shake-up in care for the vulnerable will deliver the millions of pounds of savings Norfolk County Council needs to find, councillors have been told.

Harold Bodmer, the executive director of adult social services at County Hall, told councillors they face 'really tough' decisions to shave £50m off what the authority spends on adult social services.

The county council needs to find £111m of savings over the next three years. Every committee has been asked to plan to be spending 25pc less in three years time, which would mean spend on adult social services would shrink from £359m to £308m.

Officers say money could be saved by promoting independence - working with the voluntary sector to keep people in their own homes and out of more expensive residential care.

Union leaders had warned that risked people's choice being taken away.

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And at a meeting of the council's adult social services committee, councillors raised their own concerns.

Liberal Democrat Brian Watkins, said: 'I think most of us agree there is no alternative to a radical rethink of how we do things. I think we have reached a defining moment in our role in providing services.'

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But he questioned whether the structure would be robust enough and if it was really possible to deliver savings of 25pc of the current spend.

Mr Bodmer said: 'We have to have a radical change in how we do things if we are going to run our services with 75pc of what is currently available and meet our statutory obligations.

'There will be really tough decisions members will have to make.

'Promoting independence is exactly the right approach, but there will be hard decisions you have to make about what services we are not going to provide and how we are going to provide services.'

Conservative Roger Smith questioned how the department could deliver such savings when it is already estimating a £5.5m overspend on the budget agreed this year.

He said: 'I am a bit sceptical about this as the way forward when we cannot manage with the budget for this year.'

Officers are working on solid proposals for the shake-up and are due to present a more detailed report in October, which would be followed by public consultation.

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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