Publication

The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000: Learning From Experience

Published: 28 Oct 2004

This report presents findings from a project examining the operation of Parts 2, 3 and 6 of the Act, which explored implementation, usage levels and people's experiences of using the legislations.

140 page PDF

0 B

140 page PDF

0 B

Contents
The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000: Learning From Experience
Page 8

140 page PDF

0 B

THE Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000: LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE

CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH ON PARTS 2 AND 3 OF THE ACT

INTRODUCTION

4.1 Part 2 of the Act, Power of Attorney (POA), and Part 3, Intromission with Funds (IwF), were intended to provide more accessible and less restrictive means for managing the finances, property and welfare of an adult with incapacity. In particular, it was anticipated that intromission with funds would help carers to access funds that might otherwise be frozen by banks or building societies.

4.2 In the course of the implementation element of the consultancy, attention was drawn to the value of these two procedures - and to some of the difficulties arising from the processes involved. To explore these issues in more depth, and to get an early picture of people's awareness, perceptions and experiences of using Parts 2 and 3 of the legislation, a research project was undertaken with three aims:

  • to identify factors informing awareness and usage of these two procedures;

  • to describe the perceptions of the process of application and registration;

  • to describe perceptions of the outcomes of registration for the adult and non-professional applicant.

4.3 To meet these aims the research took a two-pronged approach:

  • a postal survey of a sample of advice agencies including law centres, Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx) and voluntary agencies;

  • a telephone survey of a small number of withdrawers and granters of powers of attorney.

4.4 The sample sizes for both the postal survey and the telephone survey were very small, and the data partly qualitative. The findings corroborate issues identified as important in the course of the implementation stage. Although far from being a definitive account, the picture emerging from these surveys raises a number of questions for further consideration.

POSTAL SURVEY OF ADVICE AGENCIES

Method and sampling

4.5 Advice-giving agencies have an important role for people who want to plan for the future, or who may already be experiencing difficulties because either they, or someone they care for, are having difficulty making or communicating decisions. To get a sense of how familiar these organisations feel they are with Parts 2 and 3 of the Act, and the extent of their activities in these areas, a postal survey was conducted across a small number of agencies.

4.6 The postal survey questionnaire was distributed to a sample of ten voluntary organisations, all ten general law centres, and twelve CABx, 9 chosen to ensure coverage of the Highlands and Islands and other rural areas, as well as the Central Belt. The selection of organisations aimed to cover the range of different client groups affected by the legislation. Of the 32 questionnaires distributed, 23 were completed and returned, a response rate of nearly 72%. Eight were returned by law centres, five by CABx and ten by voluntary organisations.

Postal survey findings

Familiarity with the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000

4.7 Of the 23 respondent agencies, a majority regarded their organisation as familiar with the aims of the legislation. Of the agencies feeling less familiar, two were law centres, two were voluntary organisations and one a CAB. One agency, for example, remarked on the questionnaire,

"As we don't deal with it [the Act] regularly it is difficult to get our heads round it and need to read it thoroughly every time someone makes an enquiry!"

4.8 Training on the Act had been available in two thirds of the organisations. This ranged from an introduction to the general principles, to training covering "all aspects of the Act". One law centre was a trainer on aspects of the Act. Detailed data were not, however, collected on the kind or level of training provided, or who within each agency had undertaken this training.

4.9 Fourteen agencies had had people coming to them for advice on how to plan for the future in case of incapacity, and three quarters had been asked for advice on how to manage the financial affairs of someone who was becoming unable to do so due to incapacity.

Familiarity with Parts 2 and 3 of the legislation

4.10 Of the 23 agencies, most felt familiar with the purpose of Part 2 of the Act and with the process of granting and registering POA. There was slightly less familiarity with Part 3 - only two thirds agencies felt they were aware of the purpose and the process involved in applying to become a withdrawer. Commenting generally on Parts 2 and 3, one quarter specifically noted that these were not areas with which they had a great deal of experience.

Dealing with queries in relation to Parts 2 and 3 of the legislation

4.11 Seventeen respondents, across the range of agency types, had handled queries regarding POA. The volume of queries over the previous twelve months had ranged from one to 216 (in one law centre). Just half had dealt with queries about intromission with funds and the number of queries in a year ranged from two to eleven.

4.12 Organisations had a number of ways of responding to queries regarding POA. Two thirds would provide advice themselves, and around half would refer to a professional outwith the organisation or another agency, including the OPG, solicitors or the Legal Services Agency (LSA). Only seven agencies would pass on printed information.

4.13 For IwF queries, under half anticipated providing advice or information themselves, and a third would refer on to another agency. These figures may reflect the fact that fewer agencies had experienced queries regarding Part 3. If referring someone on, the OPG would be the main source of advice (more so than in relation to POA), followed by solicitors and the LSA. Only about one third would offer printed information.

Queries raised about POA

4.14 Nearly three quarters of agencies had experience of people seeking advice on how to grant or register a POA. The two second largest categories of query, experienced by almost half of the agencies, were about the purpose of a POA and questions from people about some aspect of their role as an attorney. Queries relating to advice on what powers to grant an attorney, issues about the fees and costs involved in registering a POA, or concerns about the way an attorney was undertaking their role were each reported by two fifths of organisations. People experiencing difficulties finding someone appropriate to take on the role of attorney had contacted just over one quarter of the agencies.

4.15 In terms of others' roles, only two agencies had experienced people with concerns about the solicitor's role in the process. None had handled concerns about the way that the OPG handled the registration. Other queries concerned capacity-related issues (for example, people could be confused about the purpose of POA, believing that someone already with incapacity was able to grant this) or financial institutions' insufficient understanding of POA.

Queries raised about IwF

4.16 Over half the organisations had been approached by people seeking advice on the role of a withdrawer. The second largest category of queries concerned the process of becoming a withdrawer. Process issues relating to obtaining a certificate of incapacity or about the costs or fees involved had been raised with one third of the organisations.

4.17 Withdrawers with questions concerning their own role and queries about how to find someone who could confirm the suitability of the withdrawer had been experienced by just three agencies. Neither the OPG nor solicitors was the subject of queries, and few organisations were aware of questions about the way a withdrawer was undertaking their role. Queries about how to identify someone who would be able to act as a withdrawer were similarly rare.

4.18 Other queries concerned issues of capacity and financial institutions not fully understanding the role and authority of withdrawers. One agency thought that people were unaware the scheme existed and assumed that they needed to become a financial guardian. It felt that professionals were frustrated that they could not use this scheme for those for whom they care.

Information on Parts 2 and 3

4.19 The main information sources agencies themselves would draw upon were the Adults with Incapacity website, printed leaflets or information booklets and direct contact with the OPG. Just over two thirds of the organisations were aware of the information available to help people thinking about using these two procedures and to help people undertake the role of either attorney or withdrawer. The third that were unaware extended across the agency types.

4.20 Of the majority who commented on the availability of information, most felt it was difficult to obtain, and seven felt there was a lack of information available, a third felt there was ample information.

4.21 Amongst those that perceived there to be a lack of readily available and timely information, it was suggested that Parts 2 and 3 were not widely publicised, and outwith an unspecified website information was not easy to obtain, so people found out "too late". The comment was made that solicitors were unlikely to advise people on these procedures because there was no financial interest for them. One agency referred to the potential to receive incorrect information, describing the "confusion caused by profs [sic] giving misleading or conflicting information (verbally)". Of fifteen agencies commenting on the nature of the information available, six felt it was too complex. For example, one respondent felt,

"information is mainly in the form of codes of practice, which are too long and detailed for many people. There is a need for more concise, accessible information."

More positively, others felt that the information was adequate - referring, for example, to the OPG leaflets as "clear" and the CD-ROM as "useful for advisors".

How Parts 2 and 3 have helped people

4.22 Both Parts 2 and 3 were seen as providing safeguards and protections for vulnerable people. For example, the systems for registration of POA, supervision and for complaint were felt to be beneficial for granters. POA was described as a "very simple tool for dealing particularly with welfare issues, but also financial". Importantly, POA was seen as empowering, enabling people to nominate an attorney to come into effect should they lose capacity, including people with dementia who are diagnosed early. It also helped to avoid the use of more restrictive procedures, "prevent[ing] situations deteriorating until more drastic measures are necessary".

4.23 In addition to the protections IwF provided, the procedure allowed access to funds that would otherwise have been frozen, and "should provide an easier way of managing finances". It was also a practical tool: "a straightforward process for solving a common problem". Just under a third of agencies, however, felt they had insufficient experience to comment on its value.

Limits to Parts 2 and 3

4.24 Two agencies, reflecting on the ways in which they thought POA had been less successful, referred to the complexity or "cumbersome" nature of the procedure. One felt it was,

"formal, solicitor based. Sometimes people just need something very simple to assist them with their affairs at this time."

Another referred to "increased" costs of legal, medical and OPG fees. One commented that, although Part 2 "has been welcomed", some people had found solicitors' fees to be very high.

4.25 One organisation thought the Act caused confusion regarding the extent of the responsibilities of the relevant people. A second believed that there was no ability for a welfare attorney to enforce the powers granted, particularly place of residence. 10

4.26 Because of the comparatively low take-up of Part 3 (see Chapter 2), in addition to a question on the ways in which this provision had been less successful, the postal survey also sought views on why use had been low and what could be done to encourage greater usage. Combining the responses to these two questions suggests that there are five main perceived obstacles to greater uptake.

  • Lack of awareness: it was suggested that the "message had not got across".

  • Too many real or perceived restrictions, including the following:

difficulties identifying someone prepared to act as a withdrawer;

difficulties arising because Part 3 cannot be used by professional care organisations not covered by Part 4 of the Act, limiting its potential use by people living in the community, supported 24-hours per day, but without family or friends able to assume this task;

that it can only be used for 'simple' financial accounts and only allows access to one bank account when many people have more than one;

it cannot be used to open an account - and people with learning disabilities, for example, moving into the community will not necessarily have a bank account.

  • Too complicated: respondents suggested it was a "very, very complex procedure". Having to anticipate financial requirements over three years and what was described as the "bureaucracy involved in report back and the fear of inadvertent error" were felt to deter use. Several referred to a "reluctance" on the part of people to use the Act by people who dislike form filling, or "who have problems getting legal advice", for instance.

  • Too costly: one respondent thought that there were "significant costs involved, particularly from GPs for certification of incapacity".

  • Too onerous: people might be put off by the responsibilities required of them as withdrawers.

Increasing the take-up of Part 3

4.27 Reflecting the perceived obstacles to greater take-up of Part 3, respondents suggested the following actions:

  • improve awareness and understanding among the public, professionals including frontline staff, carers and medical professionals, and banking staff;

  • expand the scope of Part 3 by, for example, permitting organisations or their representatives to act as withdrawers, expanding the list of countersignatories, 11 allowing more than one bank account to be accessed and making certificates more open-ended and amendable;

  • simplify the process;

  • address issues around costs and fees by, for instance, fixing fees for GPs .

TELEPHONE SURVEY OF 'GRANTERS' AND 'WITHDRAWERS'

Method and sampling

4.28 To obtain the views of 'granters', 'withdrawers' and, where possible, adults with incapacity, a semi-structured interview schedule was developed to be administered over the telephone. This covered: reasons for pursuing particular procedures; finding out about the process; applying or registering; advice and support, including the codes of practice; and outcomes for themselves or the person for whom they are a 'withdrawer'.

4.29 To recruit the sample, the names of 100 people, who had either registered POA or applied to be a withdrawer, were selected at random from the OPG's database. Forty were applicants for authority to withdraw funds and 60 were people granting POA. Letters were sent inviting them to take part in the research. To abide by data protection requirements and ensure confidentiality, this initial letter was sent by the OPG on behalf of the researchers.

4.30 Enclosed with the letter were an information sheet about the project and a consent form to be completed by the granter or withdrawer. To provide an opportunity for adults with incapacity to participate too, the letter for withdrawers also included an information sheet, letter and consent form for the adult, together with a letter, information sheet and consent form for the person's welfare guardian or nearest relative, if the adult was unable to give informed consent to participate in research. Although intended to reflect the requirements of Part 5 of the legislation as it relates to consent to research, this did mean that the procedure was very complex and confusing for recipients which almost certainly had an impact on the size of the sample recruited by possibly discouraging people from responding.

4.31 In total 23 consent forms were returned, including three non-consents and six forms indicating consent but with no contact information. In six cases, consent was obtained, but upon further investigation they were not appropriate for inclusion. As a result, only eight interviews could be undertaken: three with granters and five with applicants for intromission with funds. The interviews lasted up to 45 minutes.

4.32 Although the complexity of the consent procedures and the reliance on a telephone interview may have limited the final sample size, the interviews nevertheless do reveal key issues, some of which could be considered for further exploration as part of a strategy for future research (see Appendix 4).

Findings from the telephone survey 1: using Part 2 to grant POA

4.33 Two granters had registered continuing and welfare powers of attorney; the third had granted welfare POA only. Each had registered their POA roughly a year before the interview. A respondent who had granted both continuing and welfare POA had an attorney exercising powers on their behalf at the time of interview. Two interviewees had granted POA to their spouse and nominated their children as substitutes; one had granted financial POA to their lawyer and welfare POA to their daughter.

4.34 Interviewees had spoken only to their lawyers about how to grant and register someone with POA. Lawyers also helped them to decide what powers they wanted their attorney to exercise and were responsible for arranging for the appropriate papers to be completed and for the POA to be registered.

What prompted people to consider applying for POA

4.35 Respondents were asked what made them think that it would be useful to grant someone with POA:

  • to avoid disagreement between their children by placing their financial affairs in someone else's hands;

  • previous experience of relatives 'leaving it too late' and not being able to access funds;

  • preferring to sort out their financial affairs while they had the capacity to do so;

  • experience of serious physical illness increasing their risk of becoming incapacitated.

Experiences and perceptions of the process

4.36 Interviewees felt that registering a POA was generally no problem, but one suggested that the OPG could reduce the time taken to handle applications. In this person's case the application took three months, of which the OPG stage was believed to take six weeks. Details of this case were not available to the research, although the OPG aims to register a correctly submitted POA within five working days, and delays may have occurred at other stages of the process. Experience of delays in the process had already been emerging as important from the work to support and explore implementation, and require further investigation and explanation.

Outcomes

4.37 For respondents being able to grant someone POA meant:

  • peace of mind for the individual and their family;

  • being able to relax because, as a pre-emptive process, it means that if the person became incapacitated the family could contact the lawyer who would trigger the process;

  • being able to give someone the ability to make decisions about their welfare if they became unable to do so themselves;

  • taking the burden off others who might be a recipient of funds and avoiding arguments.

Other issues

4.38 None of the respondents expressed concerns about fees they had paid for legal advice relating to registering POA. Nor did any know about the principles behind the legislation before making their application, and just one had since seen them.

4.39 Several comments suggested a need for greater awareness of the Act. One respondent remarked that not everyone would have the resources, or know about the process (where to start or how to go about it), especially those on lower incomes and older people. It was suggested that organisations like Age Concern could publicise the Act, and that people have to 'seek out' information although the Act applies to everyone, including the young.

Findings from the telephone survey 2: using Part 3 to apply for IwF authority

What prompted people to consider applying for IwF

4.40 The following reasons were given for considering that applying to be a withdrawer would be useful:

  • to regulate the affairs of a relative who was becoming confused;

  • fears that the government would seize the frozen monies and dormant accounts held by a confused relative;

  • having to complete forms for the social work department, but having the bank refuse or be unable to tell the respondent what was in their relative's account;

  • to take care of the affairs of a family member with dementia living in a home;

  • concerns that a relative could be taking money from the adult's account for themselves;

  • lawyer suggested it would assist with the expenses of a relative in a care home;

  • the declining health of the adult and his or her increasing inability to manage their affairs.

4.41 Interviewees needed to access funds to pay bills, deal with the adult's bank accounts, make transfers to pay for care fees, purchase toiletries and clothes for their relative, or pay for services such as hairdressing. Two had been a withdrawer for two years, two for about a year.

4.42 A fifth person who took part in the research had applied for IwF. In the course of the interview, they spoke of applying for POA, but because of the adult's deteriorating condition had subsequently been advised to make an application to be a welfare guardian. Because of this individual's evident distress during the interview it was not appropriate to seek a detailed account of their experiences.

Experiences and perceptions of the process

4.43 Respondents found out about becoming a withdrawer from lawyers, CABx, family members, the OPG, the newspapers when the legislation was launched and "through the grapevine". Interviewees spoke to the OPG and their lawyers about how to make the application.

4.44 Working out the financial information required for the application did not present difficulties. One had sought help from the OPG with this and others consulted their lawyers. Obtaining a medical certificate presented problems for one, who found the process of working out which medical staff to approach and taking a letter to medical and nursing staff for signing "a lot of hassle". All found it easy to get an independent person to sign Part B of the form. All knew that they needed to keep a record of their expenditure and had booklets from the OPG to help them with this. Only one knew about the Code of Practice for withdrawers (although the OPG booklet details how to obtain a copy), and they had found it very helpful.

4.45 Based on the experiences and perceptions that were relayed, a number of issues emerged relating to the process of applying for IwF.

  • One respondent had to complete a second application form because the original was lost in the post, pointing to the importance of simply retaining a copy of the completed application form, a point that could be included in information for applicants.

  • Another felt that the process could be simpler.

  • Difficulties were experienced when the person for whom they were the withdrawer had more than one account: having to make a separate application for other accounts was felt to be frustrating and inconvenient.

  • One person was concerned that the social worker and community psychiatric nurse caring for their relative did not identify sooner that their relative was becoming incapacitated so that POA could have been applied for at an earlier stage.

Fees and timescales

4.46 In addition to the fee to the OPG, two respondents had to pay for medical fees and one had to pay lawyer's fees. All accepted that they had to pay these: two recouped their costs, another did not know that they could but did not mind, a fourth recouped some costs.

4.47 The respondent who had had to switch their application to one for guardianship could not recoup their costs. They were billed 130 by their lawyer and, when they asked the OPG about recouping this, were told they could have gone through the process of applying for IwF for just 30 (sic). They were frustrated at not having known of whom to ask questions and when.

4.48 Respondents reported that from putting an application to the OPG to getting a certificate took from between four weeks to a few months. One said that they understood that the process involved others being asked if they had objections, which would take some time. The legislation requires an intimation period before an application can be granted, during which time the adult's account may be frozen, and in one case this meant that the interviewee had to pay nursing home care charges in the meantime from their own money.

4.49 There were experiences of frustration and difficulty when they needed to access more than one bank account or transfer funds between accounts because of only having access to one. Interviewees had problems dealing with the banks and risked incurring charges when money in the accessible account ran out. Respondents were unsure of whether they had to go through the whole application process again to access funds in their relative's other accounts, and the process was described as restrictive and illogical.

Outcomes

4.50 Respondents said that being able to access their relative's funds had been positive, especially as it meant their relative could access their own money. They had varied experiences from having the responsibility of being a withdrawer: feeling more empowered; frustrations with the banks checking their authority every time they wanted to transfer money; worrying about forgetting receipts and being unhappy with the feeling that they were being checked up on.

4.51 With the benefit of hindsight, all respondents said that they would go through the process again, but had some advice: open a joint bank account in the first place and, "Be patient, there's a lot of things to do and phone calls to make but in the end it's worth it."

ISSUES EMERGING FROM across THE POSTAL AND TELEPHONE SURVEYS

4.52 From the postal survey of advice organisations and telephone interviews with granters and withdrawers eight key topics emerged. Although based on only a small sample of agencies and an even smaller sample of granters and withdrawers, a number of these issues mirror those raised in the course of the implementation element of the consultancy (see Chapter 3). The data also allow suggestions to be made for where further research could be valuable, focusing in depth on the roles of proxies, particularly attorneys, and the outcomes for granters, proxies and adults, as part of any forward AWI research strategy (see Appendix 4).

The merits of using Parts 2 and 3 of the Act

4.53 Organisations familiar with Parts 2 and 3 and people who had been through the process of applying acknowledged the value of being able to grant POA or have the authority for IwF. Advantages of POA included being able to avoid difficulties or future disagreements. It was empowering, enabling an individual to plan for their future and avoid the potential future use of more restrictive options. The registration and complaints procedures meant there were protective mechanisms built-in for the granter. IwF enabled an individual to manage the affairs of an adult, often a relative, who was no longer able to manage their own finances, which included access to funds that might otherwise be frozen. This procedure was seen as protective of the adult.

The need for greater awareness of these parts of the legislation

4.54 Given the value of these parts of the Act, a strong theme to emerge from both surveys and from the implementation work was the need to improve awareness, both of the opportunities provided and of the criteria that apply. Awareness-raising would need to target not only the general public but also advice agencies and lawyers. Comments by advice-giving agencies suggested information has not always been perceived to be easily available, nor necessarily accessible.

4.55 To encourage early consideration of POA or IwF, increased awareness among health, social care and voluntary and independent sector professionals, working with people who may become or are incapable of managing their affairs, is particularly needed. This could reduce the risk of people being misinformed or informed too late to pursue a less restrictive option, and might overcome some of the perceived difficulties encountered by withdrawers attempting to obtain a medical certificate. The perceived difficulties experienced by withdrawers, once authorised, suggested there is also a need for further awareness-raising or training within banks and finance houses.

The complexity of the processes

4.56 A common theme, which arose through the implementation activity too, was the (perceived) complexity of the processes involved. However, the impact of 'complexity' may differ in relation to the different parts. The two procedures are distinct: the process of applying and registering POA is largely lawyer-driven, that of IwF is led by relatives or carers of the adult.

4.57 Although none of the small sample of granters interviewed referred to the complexity of the procedure, which was handled by their lawyers, several advice agencies referred to the "cumbersome" nature of the procedure, suggesting that this meant that people had to use lawyers (and incur lawyers' fees) when "sometimes people just need something simple".

4.58 In relation to applying for authority to intromit with funds, the "complexity" of completing the application, obtaining a certificate of incapacity and a countersignature, setting up a designated account and giving details of how the transferred funds would be used over three years, fall largely on the shoulders of the lay applicants, with some advice from the OPG or lawyers. Difficulties this raised were reflected in withdrawers' comments and in agencies' criticisms of the procedure, implying that the "bureaucracy" could deter people from applying.

Responsibility and accountability

4.59 The complexity of the role of withdrawer extends beyond the process of applying and obtaining authority to the on-going requirement to keep a record of expenditure. Although they had information from the OPG to assist them, the need to be accountable and fear of making errors did create anxieties amongst withdrawers, concerns echoed in the comments of the advice agencies with experience of dealing with Part 3-related queries.

4.60 This reflects a tension between the need to protect an adult with incapacity from potential financial exploitation and to ensure that the ways of guaranteeing accountability are not so off-putting or complex that they deter people from taking on the role of withdrawer.

Support in the role

4.61 The research did not include interviews with people granted POA or acting as attorneys, so it is not possible to assess how supported they feel in the task, although the number of agencies dealing with queries from attorneys suggests there may be a demand for assistance. Withdrawers were aware of supervisory mechanisms and of the extent of their responsibilities, but appeared to be unsupported in the task. This may be significant in the light of the fairly limited take-up of Part 3 provisions overall.

4.62 Although only one withdrawer could recall having seen the code of practice and found it helpful, this may be one avenue for supporting potential and actual withdrawers through the process, although in its current form the code may be perceived to be too complex. Reviewing the code with people who have experience of using it to ensure it is more user-friendly may help to overcome some of the deterrents apparently at work. There may also be a greater role for advice agencies in enhancing their own awareness and, therefore, their ability to support withdrawers.

Limitations

4.63 Several limitations identified in relation to Part 3 echo those raised in the course of the implementation element of the consultancy. Telephone and postal survey respondents drew attention to the limitations of only being able to access one of the adult's accounts.

4.64 Furthermore, Part 3 does not make provision for people to open an account for someone who does not already have one, raising the possibility of an application being instead made for an intervention or guardianship order under Part 6, contrary perhaps to the principle of the less restrictive alternative.

4.65 Limiting withdrawers to people acting in a personal not professional capacity may curtail the usefulness of Part 3 for those moving from hospital to the community. It was suggested that organisations or their representatives should be able to act as withdrawers.

4.66 Limitations relating to finding a suitable proxy were difficult to gauge from the data, although one third of the organisations, which had experienced people with queries about aspects of POA, had specifically dealt with concerns about how to identify someone to be their attorney.

Timescales and costs

4.67 Generally, neither the timescales nor the legal fees involved raised concerns for the small number of POA granters interviewed. Agencies, however, drew attention to the high legal fees experienced by some, and had experience of people approaching them with queries about the costs involved in registration. Medical and legal fees did not appear to be a significant barrier for most withdrawers. The postal survey, however, revealed concerns that the Part 3 procedure may be felt to be too costly, including the fees for medical certificates. For withdrawers, the time taken to process applications, including the required intimation period, had significant implications as during that period the adult's account was frozen.

The principles of the Act

4.68 The five principles underpinning the legislation apply as much to Parts 2 and 3 as they do to Parts 5 and 6, yet none of the telephone survey respondents was aware of the principles at the time they were going through the process. This may be a matter of recall or more immediate concerns with the practicalities of their duties. Arguably, however, the apparent lack of awareness raises two questions about how the principles are being applied in these two non-professional led procedures, and how to ensure that they are observed by withdrawers or attorneys. While perhaps awareness of the principles is less immediately relevant to granters of POA, these questions may take on greater salience as more people become withdrawers or act as attorney for someone who has ceased to be able to manage their own affairs.

summary: KEY POINTS

On the basis of the responses to a postal survey by 23 advice agencies and telephone interviews with three granters of power of attorney and five applicants for intromission with funds, key points emerged in relation to the following.

  • The perceived value of these procedures to enable and empower granters and withdrawers.

  • The need for greater awareness of these options, among the general public, advice agencies, lawyers, health, social care and voluntary and independent sector professionals. Banks and financial institutions also need to make staff better aware of the authority
    granted to withdrawers.

  • The perceived complexity of the processes involved in registering power of attorney or applying for authority to intromit with funds.

  • The importance of support for people taking on the responsibility of withdrawer, particularly in the context of the need for clear mechanisms for ensuring financial accountability.

  • Limitations of Part 3 in terms of: being able to access just one account; not being able to open an account for someone who does not already have one; only private individuals, not people acting in a professional capacity, being able to function as withdrawers. The time required for intimation may also pose practical difficulties for applicants for intromission with funds since during this period the adult's account will remain frozen.

  • The unfamiliarity of withdrawers and granters with the five principles of the legislation.