Opportunities for people with Learning Disabilities in Norfolk

Norfolk County Council’s Scrutiny Committee examined the new programme of support for adults with a learning disability this week.

You can watch the whole three hour session here. Most of my questions are about two and a half hours in. My concerns focused on four areas:

  • whether the new scheme is a Trojan Horse for cuts (Cllr Borrett pretty much admitted that they were when questioned by Cllr Brenda Jones since they are paid for in part by cuts to the Minimum Income Guarantee which supports disabled people)
  • whether the employability strand will offer value for money
  • whether the County Council is putting too big a bureaucratic burden on itself and on service providers with its plans for monitoring the scheme
  • whether the council will get better at engaging with the people who will benefit from the system as they review and develop the programme

Cllr Borrett was criticised for walking out of a Radio Norfolk interview after the session when he was questioned about the hidden cuts in funding but he was candid in the Scrutiny session. I asked him why the implementation of the scheme had been delayed by more than six months. He replied that it was a ‘lack of political will’ linked to caution about answering questions about the scheme. I took this to mean he had been battling his own officials to get them to move forward with the scheme in the face of political uncertainty at a national level and perhaps pressure from service users and providers locally too.

Scrutiny Committee
Norfolk County Council Scrutiny Committee meeting. Cllr Borrett answers questions about new Life Opportunities programme for Learning Disabled adults.