Powers of Attorney

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 29th January 2008.

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Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Conservative, Banbury 2:30 pm, 29th January 2008

How many applications in relation to enduring powers of attorney have been lodged with the Office of the Public Guardian since 1 October 2007.

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Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

From 1 October 2007 to 18 January 2008, the Office of the Public Guardian received 6,318 applications to register enduring powers of attorney and 2,746 applications to register the new lasting powers of attorney, which replaced enduring powers of attorney when the Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force on 1 October.

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Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Conservative, Banbury

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Sir Mark Potter, the president of the family division, states that since opening for business on 1 October 2007, the Office of the Public Guardian has been all but overwhelmed by the unexpectedly high level of business, particularly in relation to enduring powers of attorney. Can the Minister give the House an assurance that the OPG has the resources it needs to carry out the tasks that Parliament set it in the 2005 Act, particularly in relation to enduring powers of attorney, which are very important for many people?

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Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point. These are people who are at their most vulnerable, so it is vital that we get the service right. It is true that the OPG received far more applications than it had initially expected and that there was a small backlog in some areas, but I have investigated thoroughly and I can assure him, and the rest of the House, that it has been rectified. For example, more than 85 per cent. of calls to the contact centre are being answered within the 60-second target. Things are moving in the right direction.

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K

I would suggest that this information is out of date. The Department was described by one of its own staff as 'chaotic' and 'in meltdown'. This may be an exaggeration but 3-4 months to process LPA's is unacceptable and causing a great deal of hardship to the vulnerable and the elderly.

Submitted by Keith Pike