A call has been made for a thousand homes in Norfolk to be snapped up by council bosses and rented out to care workers - to tackle the county's recruitment crisis.

A lack of suitable housing has contributed to struggles to plug worker vacancies in adult social care, in a county where pressures on social care are surging.

Council care chiefs have previously said the problem is particularly acute in north Norfolk, where workers are priced out of homes.

Norwich Evening News: A call has been made for homes to be bought so they can be rented out to care workers to solve a recruitment crisisA call has been made for homes to be bought so they can be rented out to care workers to solve a recruitment crisis (Image: Mike Page)

Norfolk County Council will meet to agree its budget, which includes £45m of cuts and savings next week, where the Labour group will propose its housing scheme.

The group wants the Conservative-controlled council to spend £200,000 on specialist support to look into setting up an investment vehicle which would use pension funds to buy between 600 and 1,000 homes over four years.

Those homes would then be leased to the county council and rented to key workers at social rent levels.

Labour says that would be attractive to pension fund investors, given the properties would increase in value.

Norwich Evening News: Labour group leader Steve MorphewLabour group leader Steve Morphew (Image: Denise Bradley)

Labour leader Steve Morphew said: "Care staff deserve higher pay but if they are chasing housing costs they can’t keep up with, higher pay alone isn’t the solution.

"Housing reserved for care workers at fair rents they can afford would be.

"This is likely to be attractive to pension funds seeking ethical long-term alternatives to historic investments they are moving away from.

Norwich Evening News: There is a shortage of care workers in NorfolkThere is a shortage of care workers in Norfolk (Image: Unison)

"Initially we would be looking at around £100-150m to fund this over four years.

"We would need expert external financial advice to package a proper investment opportunity and flesh out the detail."

The idea has precedents. Greater Manchester Pension Fund and South Yorkshire Pensions Authority have been investing capital in a company which builds homes for key workers.

Labour's proposal is part of its proposed wider shake-up in the way the county council commissions and delivers care.

It includes proposals for the council to buy or take over care homes and care providers leaving the market, through its own company Norse Care, with the buildings repurposed.

Norwich Evening News: Andrew Jamieson, deputy leader of Norfolk County CouncilAndrew Jamieson, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council (Image: Norfolk County Council)

Andrew Jamieson, the council's cabinet member for finance, said he would consider the proposals and would respond at the budget-setting meeting on Tuesday.