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Controversy over new Norfolk care shake-up idea

Another shake-up is on the cards for care services in Norfolk.

Another shake-up is on the cards for care services in Norfolk.


Older and vulnerable people in Norfolk could have their care services provided by a social enterprise run by 500 staff currently employed by the county council, if a radical proposal gets the go-ahead.

Bosses at Norfolk County Council have previously said the council is shifting away from providing services such as day care, respite care and personal assistants directly, to commissioning others to run them.

But they have now proposed creating a social enterprise, which county council staff would transfer to and have a stake in, to provide those services.

While the precise details have yet to be drawn up, if the idea gets off the ground, then the social enterprise would be a community interest companies - a special type of limited company whose main purpose is social good rather than making profits.

At a meeting of the county council’s community services overview and scrutiny panel today, councillors agreed in principle to the notion, with council officers saying staff were supportive of the switch, which would see them move over to the new company.

But trade union UNISON took issue with the claim that staff are in favour of the move, saying that is not the impression they get from their members.

At yesterday’s meeting, Conservative county councillor Roger Smith, who chaired a working party looking at the issue, said his visits to day centres in Lowestoft, run by a social enterprise contracted by Suffolk County Council had left him “very encouraged” by the idea of Norfolk County Council doing likewise.

He said: “This social enterprise would be the biggest we have set up, with a spend of £12m to £13m and 500 staff, so this is a major area of operation.

“We have to move with all possible speed to get the support mechanisms set up and get this launched. We cannot afford to fail.”

But George Nobbs, leader of the Labour group, questioned whether staff really were supportive and why there needed to be such a rush to get a potentially risky venture running.

Officers said from discussions with staff, there were “positives and negatives” raised by workers, but they were supportive “on the whole”.

Liberal Democrat councillor James Joyce said he supported the scheme, but said: “It’s the staff who are most important. If staff buy into this it will work and if they don’t, it won’t.”

Speaking after the meeting, Alison Birmingham, UNISON’s senior steward for adult social care, said: “There has been no poll of what staff want, so it is difficult to see how they would be engaged in this.

“It is difficult to see how this will save money, except by driving down wages and renting premises back to the staff.”

The council’s cabinet will consider the proposal next month, but further work will need to be done to figure out exactly how the social enterprise would work.


  • Hmmm. 'Private' healthcare? I wonder if some company that just happens to have several councillors on it's board of directors will bid for a slice of the action? Norse pie anyone??

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    User Removed

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

  • "a special type of limited company whose main purpose is social good rather than making profits."...."You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." big up Ab Lincoln.

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    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

  • Another massive kite flown by cllr. Roger Smith, the first step to privatise social care, off course, and with our money to set it up. That this idea has not been put to staff, once again questions Cllr. and officers social responsibilities. Not suprised that an unaccountable Lib dem twin hatter supports his master. The same cllr. Roger Smith is in favour of incineration, the 20 million compensation clause and the 3.3million overspent on solicitors, against our democratic wishes.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

  • At least it's not private equity like Southern Cross so maybe NCC has learnt one lesson.Unfortunately private equity has switched to funding the NHS alongside the hedge funds, which is even more worrying than this.All of these proposed changes to structure of a vital service effecting 1000s of lives must be carefully risk assessed for systemic risk.This is right as the provision of a safe service should be paramount. These risk assessments should be made available to the public without the need for FOi requests.The NHS is not safe with the Tories and neither,it looks,is social care.Neither will the mental health services,losing 500 jobs,be able to take up the slack.It amounts to catastrophe.

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    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

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