Cabinet decision following judicial review of care charging
12 January 2021
Following a recent judicial review into adult social care charging, today’s Norfolk County Council cabinet meeting approved the following recommendations:
a) to make an initial amendment to the charging policy for non-residential care for people of working age, setting a minimum income guarantee of £165 per week, and using discretion to disregard the enhanced daily living allowance element of Personal Independence Payment
b) to apologise to those affected and implement that amendment as soon as practicable and backdate it to July 2019
c) to initiate further detailed work on the impact of the charging policy as it relates to the group of severely disabled people identified by this judgment, and wider groups.
County Council Leader Councillor Andrew Proctor said: “The council is responsible for setting its own charging policy, and to interpret the relevant guidance. It has tried to do this accurately, based on consultation and advice and the final decision was made by members at a full council meeting.
“The judgement is clear that the discrimination in the policy was inadvertent, unforeseen and unplanned. It is however the council’s responsibility to change its approach in line with the judgement. That’s why it’s important that we respond to the judgement quickly and we have done just that. We will ensure that everything that needs to be changed will be done as soon as possible.
“The council (and therefore the cabinet member), did not intend to discriminate. Its intention – which the judgement acknowledges – was to amend its charging policy in line with the national guidance, and to bring it into line with other councils. It considered this carefully and conscientiously, seeking to both phase in and mitigate the impact on vulnerable people and their income. Cllr Borrett has publicly apologised on behalf of the council, he continues to work with the people who use services to explain the implications and he has brought forward revised arrangements for us to consider at today’s cabinet meeting.
“Due to the above reasons and the acknowledged unintentional nature of the breach I do not consider this a matter for resignation.”
Councillor Bill Borrett, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “I am sorry that the council has been found to have caused discrimination, even though it was inadvertent. Today the cabinet agreed to respond in full to the findings of the judicial review. The decision may have far reaching implications for other councils, as the changes we introduced were to bring Norfolk into line with the Government’s minimum income guarantee guidelines.
“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. The council has had to make some very difficult decisions across all the services that adult social care supports.
“I have supported the raising of the adult social care precept when we have been allowed to by the Government. I have campaigned with fellow councillors, our local MPs and Government ministers to raise the issue of the need for a sustainable settlement for adult social care. My colleagues in the cabinet will testify to my championing for a generous share of the council’s resources for adult social care.”