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‘We’re last on the heap’ - council urged to forego disabled adults’ care charges rise

PUBLISHED: 15:03 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:03 12 May 2020

Marilyn Heath with daughter Sara whose care costs are set to rise under the council's changes. Photo: Marilyn Heath

Marilyn Heath with daughter Sara whose care costs are set to rise under the council's changes. Photo: Marilyn Heath

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A mother caring for her disabled daughter has urged the council to stop treating family carers as “last on the heap”.

Bill Borrett, Conservative county council cabinet member for adult social care. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Bill Borrett, Conservative county council cabinet member for adult social care. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Norfolk County Council (NCC) reduced the minimum income guarantee (MIG) last year, which means disabled people aged 18 to 64 would pay more for their care.

Despite initially refusing to delay the rise days into lockdown, the council u-turned on the decision and halted the increase in a bid to give carers “breathing space”.

And Marilyn Heath, from Disability Network Norfolk, (DNN) urged the council to make the decision permanent for family carers, who she said save the authority an annual £1.9bn in adult social care costs.

READ MORE: Council U-turn sees pay freeze to ‘appalling’ rise in disability care costs

Details have now emerged as to how the decision was made, with the council deploying Covid-19 funding to “temporarily mitigate the impact of the increases” for the 2,394 disabled people affected.

Papers published ahead of a cabinet meeting outlined how the decision was made under the authority’s emergency powers.

The decision notice stated: “As a response to the pandemic and the risks this poses to service users financially, a decision is required to use national Covid-19 monies to temporarily mitigate the impact of the increases. The cost to the council if this was suspended for 16 weeks is forecast at £1m.”

READ MORE: ‘No one has been targeted as much’: How latest cuts are hurting disabled people

The move was deemed not a key decision and was not subject to call-in, the papers said, meaning it would not be further scrutinised.

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, signed off on the decision, which the council said would be kept under review.

Mrs Heath, 68, who cares for her 23-year-old daughter Sara, who has severe learning difficulties, added: “After four months I don’t know where we will be. I’d absolutely like the council to keep the rise on hold - in fact I would like to see it get rid of all these charges.

READ MORE: No u-turn over controversial move which would increase care costs for disabled people

“Carers are doing an incredible job and as ever, we’re last on the heap. We had care homes, then carers, but there’s not been much mention of family carers. We save the county £1.9bn and the country £135bn a year caring for people who are disabled and we do it with love but we’re treated as if we don’t count at all.”

A council spokesman said: “It is good to hear that DNN supports the decision to allocate some of the one-off money received from the government, to delay the implementation of the national level of the MIG for 16 weeks.

“It was part of a £23m Covid-19 grant from the government and it was used to give service users and their carers a bit of breathing space to make plans, because the lockdown was introduced so quickly.”


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