Debate on whether local authorities are suitably placed to manage the finances of people who lack capacity

Debate on whether local authorities are suitably placed
to manage the finances of people who lack capacity

We asked people:- Are local authorities suitably placed
to manage the finances of people who lack capacity?

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These are the comments we received:-

 “It depends on the particular people in the team or area.
What has to be remembered is that some families are not necessary
the best placed to help manage the finances of people who lack
capacity either”.


“Where there are trustworthy family/friends, user friendly
systems should be used, but clients must be involved regardless of
their “capacity”.

Many of the clients I work with live with their families and
have no access to their own benefits, as this income is absorbed
into the family budget. This becomes a problem when the person is
not adequately fed or clothed at the expense of others in the

There are some people living with their families who receive in
excess of £200 per week when Disability Living Allowance and
other benefits and premiums are applied.

For the state to manage clients’ money, it would have to
be well-structured to enable simple access to money.  Whether
authorities are “suitably placed” is more to do with resources and

Not all people who lack capacity are financially abused, but I
think we should focus on those that are. It is a personal
intrusion, but poverty and debt are more intrusive and cause great
hardship. One of my clients has delegated responsibility to me for
the management of her income because she was subject to financial
abuse in the past.  The result is that she has no debt, a
comfortable lifestyle and a healthy savings account. She also feels
safe and has moved to her own accommodation.

A variety of options should be available. Whether social
workers, support workers, solicitors or family members manage the
money is not the issue, how we safeguard the client is the

Anne McCloskey
Social Worker
Adult Learning Disability Team


“The role of the public authority receiver and the
difficulties which go with it is a subject which has had little
publicity in recent times. To a large extent this is inevitable,
given the sensitive nature of the work. But it does mean that the
work of a small group of people in England and Wales has often gone

I feel however, that the cover illustration of Community
, arresting as it certainly was, did not do justice to
this group of people who are in the main dedicated, hard working
and professional. It is that professionalism which dictates their
core business – their clients’ best interests.

“Best interests” are not always as instantly recognisable and
certainly not as universal in its interpretation as we might wish.
But minds must be concentrated upon it increasingly in the days and
weeks ahead as this concept underpins the proposed Mental
Incapacity Bill.

At the end of the day, the court of protection is charged with
the unenviable task of determining what those best interests are,
in cases where the interpretation is in dispute. There will be many
people who will inform that final decision – principally the
individuals themselves and/or their advocates.

Value for money is an important consideration for the receiver
and for the public guardianship office which monitors the service
the receiver provides. Paying for services which an individual
should not be charged for, either because they haven’t received
them or they are ineligible to pay is a grave error on the part of
the receiver, whoever they may be. Neither I nor my colleagues
would pay a bill raised either by our paymaster, the council, or an
independent care provider, (many of our clients are self-funding)
if it was not due, and I do not believe that we are extraordinary
in this.

I take very seriously the question of money for clients’
personal needs, all of which will be very different. Whilst the
Greenwich example may show one side of the coin, another is
illustrated by the person who has scrimped and saved throughout
life and remains fiercely resistant to having money spent upon
them. Such a view also has to be respected in considering “best

In an ideal world, the choice of receiver would be limitless but
in fact it is not: people are not queuing up to offer their
services. The job is often difficult, labour intensive and, in the
case of public authority receivers, as the cover of Community Care
demonstrates, frequently thankless. 

John Ripley
Receivership Manager





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