Exploitation fears plague capacity bill

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable benefit claimants could miss
out on protection measures in the Mental Capacity Bill, leaving
them open to financial exploitation, campaigners have warned.

The bill proposes 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 charities coalition Making Decisions Alliance fears Department
of Work and Pensions officers appointed to manage the benefits of
anyone who is judged incapable do not come under the bill’s

Co-chair Richard Kramer said: “Appointeeships should be brought
within the scope of the bill so that people are safeguarded against
exploitation especially when their only income is from benefits and
the appointee has control over them.

“Appointees have more powers than court-appointed deputies. Our
concern is they will not need to adhere to the principles of bill
and their position is not revoked unless concerns are raised by a
third party.”

Kramer said the DWP should apply the same tests for mental capacity
that were set out in the bill, but feared two parallel systems
would emerge with different safeguards.

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