Warning that £13m reserves could have to be used to cope with pressures on Norfolk social services

Norfolk County Council could have to call on its reserves to provide vital services for vulnerable p

Norfolk County Council could have to call on its reserves to provide vital services for vulnerable people. - Credit: Archant

Pressures on services to help the most vulnerable adults in Norfolk are so great that providing them is likely to mean multi-million pound reserves are used up within three years.

Councillors have been warned that some £13m held in Norfolk County Council's reserves could have to be whittled away by 2017 to provide adult social services.

That sparked concern from members of the council's adult social services committee at today's meeting.

Conservative councillor Margaret Somerville said she feared the council was reduced to 'crisis management' while fellow Tory Cliff Jordan said the authority was heading into 'deep trouble'.

The meeting heard how the authority was forecast to have overspent by almost £4m on buying care for older people, the bulk of which was for residential care, while some savings outlined in the Big Conversation - a package of cuts launched in 2010 - had yet to be achieved.

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Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services, said a debate was needed over whether the NHS should invest more in prevention, to stop people ending up in hospital in the longer term.

He said: 'This reflects a budget which has always been under huge pressure and we have made significant savings of some £70m in recent years.

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'By working more closely with the NHS, our objective is to get them to invest much more in social care.

'They, and we, know that keeps people out of hospital.

'I think that is the way we will have to go to make social care sustainable.'

The committee also heard warnings from the council's interim finance director Peter Timmins that the authority was heading into 'shark infested waters' due to further funding pressures.

Liberal Democrat councillor Brian Watkins said: 'It's an extremely gloomy outlook. I think this is a case of things can only get worse.

'We are going to have austerity for many years to come and are going to have to make bold decisions about our priorities as government money is reduced.'

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