Deputies' charges to be closely monitored
The proposals are included in the Office of the Public Guardian's review of the system, which was presented to parliament last week. It was commissioned in 2012 in response to MPs' complaints about professional charges levied in connection with some deputyships. In some cases a significant proportion of the assets in the case had been swallowed up by the deputyship charges, including the costs of monitoring deputies.
In its report, the OPG pointed out that its supervision caseload had more than doubled since the commencement of the Mental Capacity Act and the resulting boom in registration of lasting powers of attorney.
Growth is predicted to continue for some years, and the OPG's review concludes that its original supervisory model has now been superseded by events.
The most fundamental change is that supervision will be done according to deputy type (lay, local authority or professional/panel). Each member of the OPG's supervisory staff will specialise in one of the deputy types.
However, better control of professional deputy charges is also a key component of the reform. The new regime is likely to include annual plans, with work and cost estimates, which can be scrutinised both beforehand and after the fact. There will be further discussions with the Senior Court Costs Office, which governs the ability of professional deputies to recover their charges from the estate of the person lacking capacity. Also, the OPG will launch a public consultation this autumn on the fees charged for supervising deputies.
'It is the intention that these several measures will address MPs' concerns on the level of charges', said the review.
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