This week Wednesday 2 and Thursday 2 December, the legal challenge by a disabled woman and her mother against care charges by Norfolk County Council is in the High Court (remote hearing).
This Judicial Review comes after two years of Disability Network Norfolk group members fighting these charges and a year since starting the legal challenge.
One of the big issues is the Minimum Income Guarantee — the amount which the Council says someone is “allowed” to keep to live on after charges for support services are taken from their benefits. Norfolk reduced this amount. Also, unwaged disabled people are charged by looking at all the benefits we get, but disabled people in waged work are allowed to keep all their wages as a “work incentive”. Many disabled people in waged work are supporting the challenge too.
This case is important for everyone who is facing recent increases from Councils taking the whole of our DLA or PIP care component. We’re caused enormous worry and left without enough money for our disability expenses, food and heating. And we are threatened with being taken to court for debt if we don’t pay up. The charges are also deducted from Direct Payments, so people are left to make up the difference and go without.
Here is the press release shared from Leigh Day solicitors representing the woman known as SH and her mum MH, a driving force in this case:
Disabled woman given permission to legally challenge Norfolk County Council care charging policy
A young woman who has Down syndrome has been granted permission for Judicial Review of Norfolk County Council’s policy of charging people for essential care and support.
13 July 2020
The 24-year-old claimant, SH, and her mother and litigation friend, MH, are part of a group of Norfolk disabled people, carers and supporters who have campaigned against Norfolk County Council’s decision to introduce a cut to the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) for working age disabled people.
The cut, combined with Norfolk County Council’s decision to include all but one component of SH’s benefits in a calculation of her contribution to care charges, leaves her in real terms, on a permanently depleted income.
MH fears this means her daughter will never be able to afford to live independently, given the total of charges levied on disabled people in supported living.
Members of Disability Network Norfolk Group (DNNG) have been fighting since November 2018 to have the council’s charging policy reversed.
Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith makes the case that the charges contravene his client’s human rights on the following grounds:
- The Charging Policy discriminates against severely disabled people who are not in work, contrary to Article 14 ECHR read with Article 1 of Protocol 1 and Article 8
- The Charging Policy indirectly discriminates against adults with Down Syndrome, contrary to sections 19 and 29 Equality Act 2010
“As a mother and sole carer, I feared for my daughter’s future if these charges went ahead, particularly after the years of austerity had left many Adult Social Care services depleted.
“As her mother, I have always tried to help SH to reach her full potential in everything she does. SH is a cheerful, caring 24-year-old Norfolk young lady who also happens to have Down Syndrome.
“After all these months, I am relieved and pleased to say that The High Court has agreed that the grounds satisfy the need for a Judicial Review of Norfolk County Council’s MIG reduction charges for working age disabled adults such as SH.”
Rowan Smith said:
“Our client believes that Norfolk County Council acted discriminately when it decided to cut her Minimum Income Guarantee and to include all of the Enhanced Daily Rate Living Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as part of the calculation of her daughter’s contribution to care charges from April 2020.
“The changes to benefits and care charges have severely impacted her life now and her future prospects for independent living.”