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Worst case scenario could see £73m cuts to care for Norfolk's most vulnerable people

Fewer older people would get formal social care from Norfolk County Council if worst case scenario cuts are made. Pic: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Fewer older people would get formal social care from Norfolk County Council if worst case scenario cuts are made. Pic: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Worst case scenario cuts to adult social services in Norfolk would see £73m less spent on looking after some of the most vulnerable people in the county.

If the cuts are agreed, it would mean some 2,700 fewer people, including older people and the disabled, would get social care directly from Norfolk County Council, as it rations support.

Transport to get people to services could be stopped and there is likely to be a dramatic shift away from residential care to care in the community - with four council-owned Norwich care homes already set to shut.

Leaders at County Hall acknowledged savings on an “eye-watering scale” would have to be made and that services had to be redesigned.

The county council needs to make £111m of savings over three years, so every committee at Norfolk County Council has been asked to plan to be spending 25pc less in three years time.

That would save £169m, so not all the cuts and savings proposed will happen, but councillors wanted options so they have some element of choice.

The proposals look to save cash by shifting to preventing people ending up needing formal social care, by promoting independence and community support.

That would keep people in their own homes, rather than ending up in what the council says is costly residential care.

The proposals would mean 1,785 fewer older people (over 64) and 1,090 fewer service users aged 18 to 64 would receive support directly from the county council.

The council said approximately £16m would be saved by restricting access to social care services, and they acknowledged having to “ration” services could lay the authority open to legal challenge.

The authority plans to spend £2m over the next three years so the council’s reablement service, Norfolk First Support can help more people regain independence, for example after a stay in hospital.

Sue Whitaker, chair of the council’s adult social care committee, said: “We are being forced to make savings on an eye-watering scale as a direct result of drastic reductions in the money we receive from central government.

“We simply cannot continue to supply all our present services in their current form. We will have to totally re-think and re-design the services we supply and, in some cases, examine why we supply them at all.

“However, I would like to reassure people that anyone who is assessed as eligible for our help will continue to receive a service but help may be given in a different way from currently.

“All councils are facing the same dilemma and we know that adult social care is provided in many different ways across 150 plus councils.

“We have been talking to a number of other county councils to understand how they supply their services and to see if there are lessons which we could apply here in Norfolk.

“Our ambition is to reduce the number of people going into full time residential care. We want to support as many people as possible to live as independently as possible for as long as possible.”

The council’s adult social care committee will meet on Monday to discuss the

proposals and will be asked to agree to put forward 12 savings proposals totalling £73m.

Members of the council’s policy and resources committee will then meet later this month to consider whether they should form part of a package of proposals to be subject to consultation with the public this autumn.

Last month, union leaders warned a ‘perfect storm’ of Norfolk’s increasingly elderly population and the county council cuts would rob older people of choices over what sort of care they would receive.

Further cuts packages will be considered by other council departments in the months ahead. Potential worst case scenario cuts to the fire service would see up to a dozen fire stations shut, which prompted the EDP to launch a Save Our Stations campaign.

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

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