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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Access to justice and advice sector issues  →  Thread

Charging for being a Corporate Appointee

Ali P
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Tenancy sustainment - Hillcrest Homes

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We are corporate appointee for around 80 clients but do not charge the clients for this service.

I have seen on a couple of English local authority websites that they charge for this service.

Is this common practice or just a few local authorities chose to do this?

Thank you

past caring
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Welfare Rights Adviser - Southwark Law Centre, Peckham

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I could be way off the mark here, but don’t LAs actually receive payment/funding from the DWP to be a corporate appointee?

*rant warning*

I fully accept that some LAs take corporate appointeeship seriously - and I suspect this is much more likely to be the case outside London where far more LAs still have good internal welfare rights services. But my experience of corporate appointees has been abysmal…..

- failure to challenge DWP decisions which could and should be challenged and where the claimant clearly cannot do so themselves (and that’s leaving aside the issue of whether the claimant has the legal power to litigate where a corporate appointee is in place)

- failure to notify relevant changes of circumstance where the corporate appointee is the entity legally obliged to do so (and where the claimant clearly lacks capacity to do so). Resulting overpayments recovered from the claimant’s benefits as a matter of course when either a) they could have been challenged or b) the appointee could and should have been the target for recovery or c) very often both at the same time.

Of course, the very fact that the claimant requires a corporate appointee means there is very rarely any friend or family member in the picture who might question either the morality or legality of such a get-up.

*rant over*

Ali P
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Tenancy sustainment - Hillcrest Homes

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Hi,

We are a Housing Assocation based in Scotland and definitely dont get paid and I dont think that Local Authorities do either.

 

Peter Donohue
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Salford Welfare Rights

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perfectly justifiable rant there…........

Presumably, where a Local Authority takes on corporate appointeeship, we are actually often (if not exclusively) looking at a corporate Deputyship via application to CoP…and in that case the claimant must have been found to lack mental capacity at least in terms of their finances to have an appointed Deputy at all…...

When a Deputy is appointed by CoP there are guidelines as to what reasonable and legitimate expenses can be claimed by the Deputy in the course of administering the Deputyship.

I have come across many cases in the past - in the Private Sector (solicitors mostly/but some accountants who go on to act as a Deputy in cases where funds - often derived from a PI or Clinical Negligence case they have also run - are involved).

Fees are rightly deductible here but are largely masked as “expenses” (albeit legitimate but certainly not cheap).

The quality of the performance of the Deputy in my experience is very mixed in such cases and the issues highlighted by our colleague in Peckham are all too common….. .

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Welfare Rights Adviser - Southwark Law Centre, Peckham

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@ Ali P - I am not certain that LAs don’t get funded - it may not be direct funding from the DWP (i.e. per appointee) but it may be covered as part of central government grant for social services. Certainly, the LAs I have worked in and with might have upwards of 150 people on the books - and funding from that has to come from somewhere?

Also at the point that the Court of Protection stopped acting directly as deputy/appointee for individuals in the early 2000s I worked in a consultancy role with a large national charity who then took over that role for many individuals - they were paid.

You ought to be paid (that’s a moral position - I accept there may not be funding).

But leaving all that aside and working on the assumption that you’re not paid and it costs to provide the service, so it’s not unreasonable that the claimant might pay a small fee…...

There’s still one real issue that I think will need to be addressed (perhaps not in every case, but in many) - does the claimant/person from whose benefits the fee will be deducted have capacity to understand what is being asked of them and to give consent? The very fact that a corporate appointee is in place will mean this is often an issue. Will an organisation that is seeking to charge engage the services of an IMCA or equivalent to help the claimant understand/engage with the process/make a decision? What will be the process/options for a claimant who does not consent? Or will they not be asked?

nottsappointee
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Appointee and Deputyship, Nottinghamshire County Council

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Morning all!

I can confirm we do not get DWP funding and the funding to run appointee and deputy is part of the main social care funding.

We do charge our clients where they have savings, as do many LAs within the area, but when I worked for an independent charity we charged the LA or CHC for the service and they did not charge the clients. Deputyship we charge in line with the COP guidelines.

Appointeeship fees are taken into account as DRE on care charges but for those with CHC or 117 funding, this is obviously not the case so they do just pay the cost (where they have the savings to be deemed chargable).

I very much agree about the quality of corp appointee services. I worked in welfare rights up until about six months ago so I have come back to appointeeship to try and improve the service but it’s a lot to fix. Last year our service had a big reorg and we’ve just finished hiring so hopefully we’re on the right track now to ensure everything is done properly, but the guidance is lacking and a lot of the staff are not confident in the legislation to challenge decisions, or claim the correct benefits.

I think there’s also a lot that needs to be considered in conflict of interest, whether thats from care providers offering appointeeship, housing associations or LAs themselves. I found challenging things like care charges more common when working for an independent charity than when inside the LA, and I’m sure similar issues arise elsewhere.

Happy Friday!

Ali P
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Tenancy sustainment - Hillcrest Homes

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Thank you for all your replies.

Rosie W
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Welfare rights service - Northumberland County Council

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We (as in the County Council) do not charge and like others any funding is from the social care budget. Our Deputyship team which holds corporate appointeeships for clients on benefits is large, very busy and very proactive. I do a substantial proportion of my work with them. I’m aware that this may be different in other local authorities.