Calls for councillor to resign over High Court disabled care ruling dismissed

Norfolk county councillor and cabinet member for adult social care Bill Borrett. Picture: Matthew Us

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A leading councillor is refusing to step down after a High Court judge ruled Norfolk County Council acted unlawfully over care cost changes for disabled people.

A judge ruled the county council had discriminated in "an unintended and unforeseen way" over changes it made to the minimum income guarantee (MIG) used to calculate the cost of care.

At a meeting of the council's cabinet on Tuesday January 12, the council agreed to make an initial amendment to charging costs, to repay some £1m to more than 3,000 people who had to pay too much for their care due to the council's unlawful decision - and to do detailed work over a revised charging policy, in consultation with people affected.

But there were calls from members of the public for Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, to resign.

John Hannaway, who lives in Watton and whose son is autistic with severe learning difficulties,  said, in a public question: "From this track record I have no confidence that Mr Borrett is the appropriate person to make sure this group of people who still may be subject to MIG charges, are treated fairly and he should resign."

Marilyn Heath and her daughter Sarah

Marilyn Heath and her daughter Sara. - Credit: Marilyn Heath

Marilyn Heath, from Horstead, whose daughter Sara has Down Syndrome, said it was "impossible to accept" that Mr Borrett was the right person for the role.

But Mr Borrett said: "I have apologised personally to the family who brought the judicial review.

"I have the utmost respect for people who live with disabilities, and for those who care for them.

"I will continue to do all I can to improve the quality of the council’s services and strive to make the resources available work in the best possible way for the people who rely on them.

"The council only sought these changes because it does not have unlimited funds and has to set a balanced budget by law."

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He said the legal judgement may have "far reaching implications" for other councils, because he said the changes had been to bring Norfolk into line with the Government’s minimum income guarantee guidelines.

Council leader Andrew Proctor said he had no intention of replacing Mr Borrett and that he "does a really good job".

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor. - Credit: Archant

But Labour group leader Steve Morphew said Mr Borrett had "clearly lost the confidence of vulnerable disabled people and their families".

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Following the meeting, the Disabled Network Norfolk Group issued a statement in which they said they continued to call for Mr Borrett's resignation.

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