Disability group fear Norfolk social care upheaval

12:33 14 January 2022

Disabled people and their parents fear a partnership that will see a consultancy firm paid £6.3million to change the way adult social care is delivered will result in cuts to services.

Norfolk County Council has agreed to bring in Newton Europe as a strategic partner to help County Hall’s own staff change the way adult social care is delivered.

The authority estimates it could save £55m over five years, but council leaders and bosses have said it will also mean better, more integrated service for people.

However, members of the 500-strong Disability Network Norfolk Group believed it would lead to cuts in services.

Buxton’s parents, Nick and Judith Taylor, have a son – Charlie – who has Down syndrome.

And Ms Taylor said: “The more than 500 members of the Disability Network Norfolk Group are absolutely outraged about this.

“We have regular meetings with the county council and have discussed some things that are wrong and they haven’t told us about it at all.

“They have to listen to us. They say they want to work with us and promised that we would be involved in the co-production. It happened to some extent, but it was not discussed with us at all.”

Mr Taylor said: “The £6.3million is to be paid on the condition that they make savings, so if they don’t make savings the business won’t make any money.

“I don’t see how they’re going to save £55m over five years without cutting services. If savings are the driving force then talk of improvements is just a veil.”

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council.
– Credit: Norfolk County Council

The strategy was agreed at a meeting of the Conservative-controlled cabinet of Norfolk County Council.

James Bullion, director of adult social care, said that by focusing on prevention, people’s potential needs would be identified earlier.

This, he said, would help people retain their independence for longer.

He said it would “change the culture”, give people single points of contact and improve connection to NHS services.

He said it was not about reducing service levels and the amount paid was a “reasonable cost” to deliver benefits.

Mr Bullion also said there would be co-production of the model with service users and not top down.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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