Revealed: The £125k cost of High Court battle over disability support

County Hall in Norwich

A High Court challenge over changes made to disability support cost Norfolk County Council more than £120,000 - it can be revealed. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A High Court challenge over changes made to disability support cost Norfolk County Council more than £120,000 - it can be revealed.

Last year, a High Court judge ruled that the county council had acted unlawfully when it agreed to change its minimum income guarantee for disability support.

The decision, which was made more than two years ago as a cost-cutting measure, meant more than 4,000 disabled people were left having to pay more for their adult social care.

It was widely criticised at the time and led to the mother of a young woman with Down syndrome launching a judicial review against it.

And after a judge ruled in favour of the mother, who can not be named for legal reasons, the council agreed to reimburse those who had overpaid - at a cost of around £1m.

And now, the legal costs of the battle can be revealed, after a settlement was agreed earlier this week.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "The legal costs arising from the judicial review - including the claimant’s costs, which have just been settled this week, and which made up the bulk of the total - were £124,328.


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"The money will come from reserves set aside for legal costs, not from service budgets.

“Cabinet agreed on January 12 to respond, in full, to the judgement – not progressing further care charge changes and engaging with the people affected and their families on a longer-term approach.”

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The judicial review came as a result of a decision in February 2019, which the Conservative-controlled council said at the time the move would save £4m and bring the council into line with other local authorities.

But a High Court judge ruled in December last year that in doing so, it had acted unlawfully and had discriminated against the vulnerable recipients of the support - albeit in an unforeseen and unintentional way.

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

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

The ordeal also led to calls for Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social services, to resign. 

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at County Hall, said: "Defending what was always indefensible is an unacceptable waste of money. Councillor Borrett seems impervious to the courts ruling his policy breached the human rights of some of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

"Now add a completely avoidable £125k bill to hard-pressed Norfolk council taxpayers and you can add incompetence to the cruelty and callousness of this saga."

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