News

Ministry of Justice Small Payments Consultation

The Ministry of Justice are consulting on a Mental Capacity Act: Small Payments Scheme. This is about a simplified process for third parties (like families or carers) to access small amounts of money held by banks for a person who ‘lacks capacity’ to make financial decisions, for example the relatively small savings that might be held in Child Trusts Fund  savings accounts when a young person turns 18.

When a person ‘lacks capacity’ then third parties (like family, friends or carers who are supporting them) can only access money held in bank accounts if they have formal legal authority to do so.  This could be granted by the person themselves (if they have the requisite capacity) by making and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or – if the person cannot make an LPA – by applying to the Court of Protection to become a deputy to manage the person’s property and affairs.  The problem is that some families and carers experience the deputyship process as too costly, time consuming and onerous to access relatively small amounts of money.  This has been coming up a lot lately in Parliament in relation to Child Trust Funds, because once a young person turns 18 their parents have no legal authority to access that money to spend on the young person if the young person cannot access it by themselves.

The issue is quite complicated, because on the one hand  you do not want a process to access the funds that is very lengthy and onerous, or so costly it defeats the purpose of the scheme.  On the other hand, you want to make sure there are safeguards against misuse of the funds (financial abuse).  And finally, the scheme needs to reflect the Mental Capacity Act’s principles around supported decision making and placing a strong emphasis on who the person wants (or would want) accessing their savings and how they would want them to be spent, but it is not straightforward to secure those safeguards.

If you have thoughts on this please do complete the consultation questions below by 12th January 2022:

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/mental-capacity-act-small-payments-scheme/consultation/

However the Ministry of Justice would also like to hear your views if you do not want to use the consultation form.  You can also email them your views on the small payments scheme at: MCAsmallpaymentsconsultation@justice.gov.uk

Original Source: Lucy Series, Researcher at the Centre for Health and Social Care Law at Cardiff Law School | The Small Places