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
    powers.

    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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