Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable benefit claimants could
escape the protection of the Mental Capacity Bill, leaving them
open to financial exploitation, campaigners warned,
writes Craig Kenny.
The bill sets up a system of court-appointed deputies to look after
the interests of people lacking mental capacity, and binds them to
a set of principles and safeguards.
But the Making Decisions Alliance, a coalition of charities, is
concerned that Department of Work and Pensions officers appointed
to manage the benefits of anyone who is judged incapable, do not
come under the bill’s powers.
MDA co-chairman Richard Kramer said: “Appointeeships should be
brought within the scope of bill to ensure that people are
safeguarded against abuse and exploitation – especially when their
only income is from benefits and the appointee has total control
“Appointees have more powers than court-appointed deputies. Our
concern is they will not have to have to adhere to the principles
of bill and their position is not revoked unless concerns are
raised by third party.”
Kramer said the DWP should apply the same tests for mental capacity
that are set out in the bill, but feared two parallel systems
emerging with different safeguards.