Public Guardianship Office needs to raise profile

The Public Guardianship Office should raise its profile to make
it easier for people to report concerns of potential financial
abuse of people who have lost their mental capacity, according to a
report today, writes Clare Jerrom.

The Court of Protection exists to protect and manage the
financial affairs of people without the mental capacity to do so
themselves and the Public Guardianship Office was established in
2001 to implement the Court of Protection’s decisions.

The National Audit Office report says that since its
establishment the PGO has improved the quality of information it
receives on receivers’ management of the financial affairs of
people with mental incapacity.

However, it urges the Office to raise its profile as relatives,
friends and social workers, who are in many instances best placed
to spot signs of potential mismanagement or financial abuse, may
not sufficiently be aware of the PGO’s role to report

The report also highlights that the Office currently lacks
“an overall picture of the circumstances in which abuse or
mismanagement most often occur, how instances of mismanagement or
abuse have been detected, and whether its regulatory controls are
effective in detecting and remedying these problems”.

As a result, it recommends the PGO makes better use if the
information available to it to help direct its scrutiny.

It also urges the Office to improve procedures for receiving,
evaluating and following up potential concerns that come to its

The minister responsible for the PGO Cathy Ashton welcomed the
findings and said: “We support fully the NAO recommendations,
and in many instances the PGO is already taking action consistent
with them.”

The PGO is already taking steps to raise awareness of its
services among the general public and practitioners through the
targeted provision of information and publicity material.

A permanent investigations unit has also been established
following a successful pilot project in 2004 to investigate
potential concerns of financial abuse.

Public Guardianship Office – protecting and promoting the
financial affairs of people who lose mental capacity from


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