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Claimant with Down Syndrome secures permission for judicial review of charging policy of county council

A 24-year-old woman with Down Syndrome has been granted permission for a judicial review challenge of Norfolk County Council’s policy of charging people for essential care and support.

The 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 the council’s decision to introduce a cut to the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) for working age disabled people.

Law firm Leigh Day, which is acting for SH, said the cut, combined with the authority’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,” the firm said.

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Solicitor Rowan Smith argued that the charges contravene SH’s human rights on the following grounds:

  1. 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
  2. The Charging Policy indirectly discriminates against adults with Down Syndrome, contrary to sections 19 and 29 Equality Act 2010

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.”

The case will be heard in the High Court in due course.

A Norfolk spokesperson said in April, when news of the potential legal action first emerged: “We believe our decisions on the MIG level have been made properly, the process having been tested by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, and will defend our decision making process in any review.”

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