The Ministry of Justice has now published its response to the consultation upon Transforming the Services of the Office of the Public Guardian. The consultation response can be found here.
In summary, and following broad approval for the proposals, the MOJ intends to implement the following by April 2013:
- introduce an online tool for making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to make the process simpler, clearer and faster and reduce errors in the LPAs that reach the OPG requiring correction;
- reduce the statutory waiting period for registering an LPA from six to four weeks in order to make the process quicker, whilst still retaining adequate safeguards; and
- amend the regulations to allow deputies to change bond provider without the need to apply to the Court of Protection, with the original bond being automatically discharged after two years.
By April 2014, the MOJ has committed itself to:
- developing simpler versions of the current Health and Welfare and Property and Affairs forms that align with the new digital LPA process;
- amending the current LPA 002 ‘application to register’ form, and considering whether it can be merged with the LPA forms themselves, to remove duplicate information and reduce the amount of form-filling that is required;
- introducing the ability to search OPG registers online as part of the programme of work to replace the OPG’s current IT systems;
- completing the fundamental review of the current approach to the way the Public Guardian exercises his statutory supervisory function and have implemented the results of that review wherever possible;
- implementing an online payment facility for the payment of both LPA and deputyship fees; and
- introducing digital channels to support deputies in fulfilling their duties under the MCA 2005, which will also be in line with the outcomes of the fundamental review of supervision.
As regards areas requiring further development (and/or primary legislation), the MOJ will (without any specific time-frame):
- consider in more detail the role of the certificate provider, the benefits provided by the certification process and the difficulties sometimes faced trying to identify suitable people to fulfil this role before bringing forward any further proposals in this area;
- consider in more detail the role of named persons and the value they add to the process of making and registering an LPA. The MOJ has indicated that it does not intend to make any changes to the maximum number of named persons at this time;
- consider whether the current process of notification operates effectively and whether there may be scope for further work in this area; and
- consider revising the notification process so that the OPG notifies named people, rather than the person making the application to register the LPA.