Ministry of Justice
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First Office of the Public Guardian Annual Report Shows Widespread Use of the Mental Capacity Act
More people are taking steps to ensure their rights and those of their loved ones, are respected by registering plans setting out what should happen to their financial and health matters should they lose mental capacity, a report published today shows.
Figures published in the Office of the Public Guardian's first Annual Report and Accounts show:
* Nearly three times more people have applied to register their Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) than in previous years.
* The number of applications to the Court of Protection for a finance or health and welfare decision have significantly exceeded expectations.
* Nearly three times more investigations into the actions of deputies and attorneys compared to last year.
* More than 50 applications made to the Court of Protection by the Public Guardian in cases where there are concerns about a deputy or attorney
The Public Guardian and Chief Executive, Martin John, said:
"The introduction of the Mental Capacity Act has resulted in a high volume of applications to register Powers of Attorney, a sign that people are increasingly thinking about and planning for their futures.
"Due to the unexpected and considerable demands on our services, we are continually improving our processes and deploying our staff to help manage the workload. We expect to see a return to our published standards over the summer period.
"We will continue to work closely with customers and stakeholders to make sure that we can deliver the service they expect."
Notes to Editors
1. Martin John became the Public Guardian on 10 July 2008, replacing Richard Brook who headed the organisation since October 2007. Richard was previously the Chief Executive Officer at the Public Guardianship Office, the precursor to OPG.
2. The OPG was launched in October 2007, as part of the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It provides services that promote the financial and social well being of people with mental incapacity in England and Wales.
3. The OPG:
* Maintains a register of LPAs and deputies.
* Provides evidence to the court of protection, the specialist court for all issues relating to people who lack capacity to make specific decisions.
* Co-operates with other agencies to supervise deputies and investigate complaints. (Deputies are people appointed by the Court of Protection to make on-going decisions on behalf of a person who lacks mental capacity.)
* Provides information and guidance to the public.
4. The Act covers decision-making for people who may lack the ability to make decisions for themselves.
5. The Act provides protection for some of the most vulnerable people in society and provides a clear legal framework within which care, support and medical treatment can be provided for people who lack capacity.
6. The Act also offers people the option to plan ahead for a time when they may not be able to make decisions by making a Lasting Power of Attorney, which replaced the previous system of Enduring Power of Attorney.
7. The Office of the Public Guardian registers Lasting Powers of Attorneys before they can be used. Registration includes a 42-day statutory waiting period that allows named individuals to raise any objections to the registration. This is one of a number of key safeguards built into the process to help ensure that Lasting Powers of Attorneys have not been drawn up fraudulently.
8. A copy of the report can be found at http://www.publicguardian.gov.uk/docs/opg-annuual-report-2007-08.pdf