As you may be aware we have been meeting with the OPG regarding the delays and other problems in relation to the LPA registration process. The below is an update following our latest meeting with them. We will soon be starting a consultation with our members to gather some data and allow members a chance to put forward their main areas of concern.
The OPG receive around 4000 applications per day. Pre-pandemic this number was around 3600.
The rejection rate of LPA’s sent for registration is around 11%.
The meeting was attended by Ruth Duffin, Deputy Director of Strategy and Central Services, and Stuart Howard, the acting Public Guardian at the time.
The OPG has agreed that meeting regularly with the Best Foundation is beneficial for both parties so that there is a channel of communication between the OPG and the professional community.
Since the previous meeting the OPG are in the process of onboarding 100 new staff and a rolling recruitment programme has been put in place.
All staff are now working at least two days each week in the office.
Our suggestions from our previous meeting
Look at building API’s (Application Programming Interface) so that the OPG system could link to the professional’s own case management system or alternatively a professional portal (similar to the HMLR login).
They confirmed they could not look at building API’s as the Modernising LPA project is the top priority at the moment for digital work and building APIs would take their staff away from the Modernising LPA project. For the same reason they are not able to consider a HMLR type portal for professionals at this time.
Again, they would like everyone to use the online submission where possible so that users are able to see the status of the document. We highlighted that many practitioners used their own case management software to avoid rekeying the data into two different systems.
Offer clients a special delivery return option for a fee
They confirmed they are not able to offer a recorded/special delivery option for clients for returning LPA’s. This is because the amount they can charge is included in secondary legislation and legislation would need to be changed in order to change the amount that they can charge.
During our discussions about postage it was discussed that the OPG receive their post in crates. Therefore any signed for/special delivery post is signed by a staff member one crate at a time. The OPG admitted that there is no preferential treatment for post sent by recorded or special delivery and given the volume of post that they process it is questionable whether or not it is worth to pay the extra fee to send the LPA’s via special or recorded delivery.
Improve communication with clients and professionals.
The OPG have added automated FAQ’s to their call system so that whilst a caller is trying to get through to them they are listening to the FAQ’s. This has resulted in 23% less calls coming through to an agent.
The OPG are currently trialling email communication to professionals and will update us further once this pilot has finished.
Further issues discussed
- Separated LPA’s
We explained that this is particular bone of contention for all professionals. The OPG confirmed that it is not always possible to keep the documents together due to the volume that they process. We highlighted a clients concern when they receive one document back but not the others, or when a client receives a communication regarding one application but not the rest. We suggested incorporating a sentence in all communications to clients to reassure them that any other applications that have been sent in, are being processed and they will be contacted separately regarding those applications. We also recommended that they added this issue into their FAQ’s as we can imagine many clients will be chasing unnecessarily.
- Inconsistency in rejected LPA’s
We explained that sometimes LPA’s are being rejected inconsistently with one application being accepted but the other rejected, despite both containing the same “error”. The OPG confirmed that they would bear this in mind when completing refresher training with staff and said that they are revising staff training regularly.
- Presentation of LPA documents
The OPG requested that all LPA’s are sent into them unbound, with no stables, ribbon, folders etc as they need to take apart the document to scan them. It is best to simply use paperclips which can be easily detached without damaging the documents.
- When a donor dies whilst waiting for registration
We asked if the OPG have a preferred method of communication in this instance with most clients calling to advise of the death. The OPG do require a copy of the death certificate so a letter would be preferable with the death certificate enclosed. The OPG confirmed they would contact the Tell us Once government scheme to see if they could be added to this service.
Our next meeting is set to take place in the new year.