The Public Guardian has recently reported to Parliament on the review of the supervision of deputies. The review was initially launched in October 2012 to consider how the supervision of deputies could be improved whilst continuing to ensure that there was proper protection in place for those vulnerable people who lacked capacity to manage their own affairs.
The report was published on 18 December 2014 and considered the changes that could be made to the supervision of deputies with the aim of making this more effective, proportionate and case specific. The report also outlined the further changes that are planned which will include a further public consultation on supervision fees in Autumn 2015.
A deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to assist in managing the affairs of someone who has lost capacity and who has not appointed an attorney under a valid power of attorney. A deputy is very similar to an attorney in the role that they perform.
However, the choice of deputy is at the Court’s discretion and they are supervised closely by the Court of Protection through the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) in carrying out their duties and making sure that they do not abuse their position. As the OPG’s supervision caseload has more than doubled since 2007 following the commencement of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and growth is predicted to continue at a significant rate, the need for a fundamental review was essential.
There are different types of deputy that can be appointed (for example, a lay deputy such as a family member, a local authority or a professional/panel deputy such as a solicitor). The new model for supervision of deputies created by the OPG centres on supervision according to the type of deputy that has been appointed. It has already implemented a number of the proposed changes and further changes which are planned include the following:-
• Internal restructuring and staff training at the OPG to enable staff to specialise in one particular deputy type. This will enable them to learn more about the particular challenges faced by a particular group and enable them to build relationships with their assigned deputies;
• The introduction of annual deputyship plans and asset inventories with work and costs estimates. There will be increased support from the Senior Courts Cost Office (SCCO) designed to monitor and control the level of costs of deputyships;
• A new digital case management system; and
• Improved guidance, including information through digital channels, to allow more sophisticated monitoring and improving services for deputies.
These proposed changes will hopefully improve the services provided by the OPG by creating the ability for them to supervise and support deputies in a way which is more tailored to their specific needs and which thereby ultimately better addresses the needs of the person who lacks capacity.
Gabrielle Medland is a member of the firm’s Private Client team based in our Exeter office. If you would like more advice or assistance for making an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy or assistance regarding preparing or registering a Lasting Power of Attorney please contact Gabrielle Medland 01392 210700 or firstname.lastname@example.org or any of her colleagues in the Private Client teams in Exeter, St Austell and Truro.