Prophecies of the Office of the Public Guardian
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
(No, the above is not the title of the new Star Wars film.)
The Office of the Public Guardian held its third annual event for stakeholders and partners last autumn. The focus was the OPG's 6-year-plan.
Presently, the OPG has over 3.5million LPAs and 60,000 Deputyship orders. The OPG continues to receive over 3,000 LPA applications every day.
The OPG cites demographic changes as one of the forces driving up the numbers of LPAs.
They also state they want to better protect and empower vulnerable people. The term 'supported decision making' will become a go-to phrase - although its important to remember that the code of practice (to the Mental Capacity Act) already states that the protected party be supported to make decisions wherever possible - it seems, therefore, that this is a cosmetic decision that may well influence the culture around best interests decision-making.
The OPG's crystal ball department of the OPG have foreseen that, by 2025:
- It will be a social norm to have an LPA in place
- the OPG will be almost entirely digital - (but digital LPAs? wet signatures??)
- There will be more professional collaboration between safeguarding agencies ensuring vulnerable people are protected.
In relation to the third prophecy of the OPG, I can only agree that greater collaboration is a must. However, the problem I come up against over and over again is that the most vulnerable people do not show up on the radar of any professional until its far too late. What use is it to P if social services and the OPG have stronger links and neither of them are aware of P's ongoing financial abuse?
I am yet to see any suggestion that the numbers and powers of OPG's visitors and investigators will increase in line with the rising tide of LPAs. If they don't, there will be a flood of financial abuse.
Tom Evans is a Solicitor and Professional Deputy.