Norfolk council taken to High Court over disabled care cost changes

County Hall in Norwich

A High Court battle is under way over Norfolk County Council's changes to cost charges for disabled people - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A High Court battle is under way over whether Norfolk County Council acted unlawfully when it changed how it calculates the care cost charges for disabled people.

The Conservative-controlled council last year reduced the minimum income guarantee (MIG), which meant disabled people aged 18 to 64 faced having to pay more for their care.

The council said that brought the charges in line with government levels and would save the authority £3m.

Campaigners fought the rise, which they said would leave disabled adults even more isolated, but the council insisted it was necessary due to “financial restrictions”.

And the mother of a young woman who has Down Syndrome has taken the issue to judicial review - with a High Court judge hearing evidence remotely.

The woman and her mother cannot be named for legal reasons.

On Wednesday, Zoe Leventhal, instructed by Leigh Day solicitors on behalf of the young woman, gave evidence before Mr Justice Griffiths.

Ms Leventhal told the court the council's charging policy indirectly discriminates against the young woman, as a severely disabled woman and indirectly discriminates against adults with Down Syndrome.

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She said, since the changes were introduced, the young woman has been charged for some of the care she receives, which cuts the amount of benefits - her only income - she gets.

Her weekly income has been reduced by £20.58 a week initially, which will be further cut to £51 a week when the next phase is introduced.

Ms Leventhal said it was unlikely the young woman would ever be able to move into supported living accommodation because she will not have enough leftover income to live on alone.

She said there had been a "disparate" and "disproportionate" impact on disabled people.

Barrister Jonathan Auburn, for Norfolk County Council, explained to the court how the county council had formulated its charging policy.

Mr Auburn said the council's policy would help get more disabled people into work and did not accept there had been a "disparate" impact.

He said the council had planned a phased introduction of the changes and it was currently paused "indefinitely".

The case continues.

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