Our latest meeting with the Office of the Public Guardian was, as always, a really positive and enlightening session. We spoke to the team about how they are continuing to tackle the rising numbers of applications and their plans for the future with the exciting MLPA Bill.
The volume of new applications being received by the OPG continues to remain high. In a bid to tackle this whilst continuing to chip away at the backlogs, recruitment is a point of focus.
There has also been a focus on improving accessibility to LPAs given that research has found that the majority of applications come from the same demographics. The OPG are running campaigns known as ‘Your Voice, Your Decision’ in selected areas that have a lower uptake.
We previously raised an issue that had been flagged to us about the pages of the LPAs being stuck together when being received back. It transpired that this was being caused by one of the perforating machines. We have now been advised that after that paperwork goes through the machine, they need to be rolled by hand to loosen the sheets from each other. Ordinarily this is done by a member of staff, but should this be missed, it’s a handy fix to know!
It was really exciting to get a progress update on the Modernisation of Lasting Powers of Attorney Bill, which has now been passed and become an Act. The next step is the development phase where they will look at designing the secondary regulations. They are also continuing to test and develop the new service to ensure it is right for customers. Their policy focus is on areas such as ID and verification with an emphasis keeping LPAs accessible and ensuring that nobody is unnecessarily excluded in the verification checks. We discussed whether there were any concerns about the MLPA coming into play and the main worry being reported is whether the new system will integrate with those already used by professionals, meaning that they would not have to input information twice. The digital team are working hard on development to ensure that this is not the case.
The OPG have recently been hosting workshops regarding digitalisation. The sessions have been a great opportunity for feedback for the team and for professionals to have their say. The members of our Advisory Board that were able to attend found them to be very informative. We also found out in our last meeting that the OPG were aware of some challenges that people were facing when lodging LPAs with banks and in an effort to drive improvement here were going to be holding meetings with the Ministry of Justice and other financial organisations to discuss.
As always, we are extremely thankful to be able to continue our relationship with the team at the OPG and for their openness and honesty.