If someone lacks the mental capacity to manage their money and is incapable of managing their finances, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 sets out who can make decisions on their behalf.
Client Management of Finances Team
If the person has no friends or family to assist or has been deemed to be at risk of financial abuse, our Client Management of Finances Team may be able to take over responsibility for receiving benefits and paying bills, repaying debts and budgeting, etc.
The aim of the Management of Finances Team is to act as a service of last resort for people who lack the mental capacity to manage their finances and have no family or friends to look after their affairs.
We will endeavour to safeguard them by ensuring that they are:
- adequately housed/looked after
- all bills are paid
- they have sufficient money for everyday living expenses
We will manage their benefits, pensions and other income in accordance with both DWP and Court of Protection rules and regulations.
Above all, we will always make any decisions with the best interests of the person in mind.
What do we mean by 'incapable'?
Labelling a person as incapable of managing their own finances is a serious matter. It should never be done without looking at the whole situation or just because it is convenient.
There is a difference between people who are incapable of handling their own finances and those who have practical difficulties doing so - for example, because they cannot physically get to the bank or post office.
Where a person has the mental capacity to manage their finances, we have no legal right to become involved in managing their finances.
A qualified person must look at the person’s situation in detail (via an assessment) before it is decided that the person is incapable.
Everyone’s circumstances will be different. Generally, a person could be considered incapable of handling their own financial affairs if:
- they have a mental health illness, dementia or learning disability
- after an assessment of their mental capacity, it appears they do not understand the value of money or are unable to make informed decisions about how to manage it.
What can we do when dealing with someone's financial affairs
The Team accepts referrals from Care Managers or Social Care Teams. Once it is agreed that the Management of Finances Team will manage someone’s financial affairs, we will:
- make applications to the Court of Protection and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to give us the authority to act and make decisions on the person’s behalf
- draw up an agreed budget for the person with the social care team
- pay bills
- ensure the person has enough money for their day-to-day needs
- monitor the person’s finances
- deal with the Court of Protection, Benefits Agency, financial institutions, utility providers (such as gas and electric companies) and other linked companies
Why do we apply to the Court of Protection?
We manage all our cases through the Court of Protection. This means we can make sure that people who have savings and assets are protected and that appropriate decisions are made on their behalf, including being able to sign tenancy agreements and other legal documents.
When we apply to the court it will appoint a named officer from the council to act on its behalf as a ‘Deputy’. This officer will have legal responsibility for managing the property and finances of a person who is no longer able to do this for themselves. The Court of Protection will monitor and supervise the officer to ensure they are acting appropriately and in the best interests of the client.
Is there a charge for this service?
Court of Protection Local Authority Administration charges will apply for this service. Please refer to the schedule of fees and charges.
What we will not do
- Manage the financial affairs of anyone who is mentally capable of doing this for themselves, even if they need some help from support workers to do this
- Be responsible for delivering cash directly to clients
- Take over any of the responsibilities of the care manager or social worker
Occasionally, we may not have the resources or expertise to be able to take on or retain cases that meet certain criteria, such as:
- High value - for example, assets over £85,000 and/or owning property
- In receipt of NHS CHC funding
- Family conflict
- Safeguarding issues
- Litigation/legal issues
- Overseas assets/travel/ residence
- Property issue/landlord
In these cases, if and where it is deemed to be in the person's best interests, the council may signpost the case, or apply to the court, for a Professional Deputy (Panel deputy) to be appointed. This is a company approved by the Court of Protection to deal with a person's property and finances as a Court Appointed Deputy.
A Professional Deputy’s (Panel deputy) fees may be higher than the fees the council can charge. This is because they deal with more complex and higher value cases.
Remember, the council will only consider the use of a Panel Deputy where there are complex issues deemed outside of the councils’ remit or expertise and where it is felt to be in the persons’ best interests. Ultimately, the Court of Protection will decide who can become a Deputy.
The council's current recommended Panel Deputy is:
JMW Solicitors LLP,
1, Byrom Place,
If required, and in the person's best interest, JMW Solicitors can put in place a Corporate Appointee using their preferred provider and Social Enterprise, Money Carer Foundation, pending their deputy appointment.
The Appointee applies for and receives the person's benefits, pays for care, accommodation, household and routine bills, sets up a managed bank account and carer’s pre-paid card, budgets and generally supports the person throughout. The appointee charges their not-for-profit fees, which cease when JMW take over.