Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, is taking action with fellow East Anglia MPs Dr. Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) and Peter Aldous (Waveney) to demand a change in the law to improve support for benefits recipients who lack the mental capacity to manage their financial affairs.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 established the Court of Protection to provide protection for individuals who lack mental capacity to make decisions about their own lives. This can include the appointment of a Deputy, who is authorised to make decisions for those unable to manage their financial affairs.
However, the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act currently advises that people who are receiving benefits do not generally require the assistance of a Deputy – making it extremely difficult for these people to manage their finances, pay a mortgage, and authorise a range of basic day-to-day payments.
Norman Lamb, together with Dan Poulter and Peter Aldous, has tabled a parliamentary motion calling for a change in the Code of Practice to allow the appointment of Deputies for people who are in receipt of benefits.
The Professional Deputy Service scheme in Suffolk currently offers a Deputy service to benefits recipients, allowing them ‘to manage their finances and to live as independently as possible’. This has had a huge impact on the lives of many vulnerable people in the county.
Norman Lamb MP said: “I’m very pleased to work with Dan Poulter and Peter Aldous to highlight this unfairness. In its current form, the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act means that many people who are already in a vulnerable position miss out on crucial support for managing their finances.
"We should always aim to learn from best practice, and the Professional Deputy Service in Suffolk has shown the difference that the appointment of a Deputy can make to the lives of people who are receiving benefits. I hope that the Government will recognise the importance of this and implement the changes to the Code of Practice without delay.”
Dr. Dan Poulter MP said: “I am very happy to jointly sponsor this Early Day Motion (EDM) and welcome the opportunity to raise this issue in Parliament. This is the first in a series of steps to address an undesirable and unintentional consequence of the Mental Health Act.”
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney said: “It is important that there is an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The work of the Professional Deputy Service shows a clear need for their services to help those most vulnerable who struggle to look after their own finances.”
EDM 86: APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTIES FOR BENEFITS RECIPIENTS
That this House notes that Patients of the Court of Protection, people who lack capacity to manage their affairs, can have a Deputy appointed who can manage their affairs, including the ability to make speedy decisions on authorising payment for adaptations to the home and many other day-to-day expenditures; further notes that the Code of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 advises that people receiving benefits do not usually need a Deputy; notes the innovative scheme in Suffolk, run by the Professional Deputy Service, which offers a Deputy service to benefits recipients; recognises that this has had a very positive impact on people's lives; further recognises that without a Deputy decision-making on vital expenditure will usually be delayed; and calls on the Ministry of Justice to change the Code of Practice to ensure that those receiving benefits can be afforded the same opportunities and decision-making service in regard to their financial affairs that others, with more money, already enjoy.