Norfolk day care services plan to be delayed

A controversial plan to dispose of county council run day centres such as the Silver Rooms and Essex Rooms in Norwich will be phased in a year later than planned to give more time to find alternatives and allow for a major expansion in the number of people receiving personal care budgets.

The county council currently has 14 day centres for older people and nine for people with learning disabilities, but moves to stop running them directly sparked uproar and an Evening News campaign and the authority has been forced delay the proposal by a year, and will look for other providers to step in and run them by April 2013, to give more time for alternatives to be found.

The authority said it had learned from the experience of the Silver Rooms where supporters want to keep the site for community use, and future proposals will see groups made up of a majority of those who use the existing service, and members of the local community, will oversee the changes as part of a 'mutual control' process for each day centre.

But, around 600 people currently receiving free county council run day centre services and home care will now have to pay under changes aimed at raising an extra �1.8m a year as part of an overhaul of the charging system, which will also see the phased ending of subsidised meals-on-wheels and increased charges for those 'self-funders' with assets worth more than �23,000. There will also be a flat 2pc increase in charges, but the council is to scrap fees for its Norfolk First Support scheme, which provides up to six weeks of support to elderly people recovering from falls or hospital treatment.

David Harwood, cabinet member for community services, said: 'We've got a responsibility to make sure that whatever is in place works. We need to move this forward but we need to get it right because we are talking about vulnerable people.'

Mark Harrison, chief executive of the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, welcomed the decision to expand the uptake of personal budgets and to allow for more time to get the day centre proposals right.

But Labour Group Leader George Nobbs said the delay showed the scale of cuts originally proposed was undeliverable.

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Members of the council's community services overview and scrutiny panel will consider the proposals at a meeting on July 5.

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