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Appointee and Deputy services

If you are considering supporting someone with their financial affairs and/or property the guide below will explain what options are available to you and support you to make your application.

What is an Appointeeship?

An Appointeeship is a delegation from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) authorising an individual, firm or Local Authority to manage welfare benefits only on behalf of an individual who lacks capacity to do so themselves.

Authorisation of this delegation will be received by the Appointee once a successful application has been approved by the DWP.

Only one person can be an Appointee for another and this role is non-delegable.

Before applying to the DWP, the proposed Appointee should arrange a designated bank account for all benefits to be paid into on behalf of the individual in question. Bank details for future benefit payments will need to be included in your application.

Details of how to make your application to the DWP are available from the Become an appointee for someone claiming benefits page. 

As Appointee you are responsible for making and maintaining any benefit claims on behalf of the individual, signing their claim form and reporting any changes in their circumstances accordingly.

In turn you must then spend this benefit in the best interest of the client to ensure their needs are met. The Appointee must always act in the best interest of the person who lacks capacity.

Swindon Borough Council no longer offers an Appointeeship service. All applications are now processed as Deputyship. Appointeeship will be obtained as an interim measure whilst the Deputyship application is processed. Swindon Borough Council is an option of last resort and will only provide assistance where there is no one else able to take on the role.

There are charities that offer Appointeeship services:

There is no fee for this application.

What is a Deputyship and do I need it?

Unlike an Appointeeship, a Deputyship is authorised by the Court of Protection (COP) and monitored by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

A Deputyship can be granted to an individual, firm or Local Authority. This responsibility is similar to that of the Appointeeship, however takes into account a much wider control of finances and not just welfare benefits. You should consider this application if the person you wish to support has any other capital or income that is not welfare benefits such as but not limited to a property, bonds, ISAs or a salary.

You should ensure that such authority has not been granted to someone before making an application and this can be done by completing an OPG 100 form and submitting it to the OPG who will make the relevant checks on their register. The form is available from the Find out if someone has a registered attorney or deputy page on the OPG website.

A Deputyship will only be applied for by a Local Authority when there are no other family members of friends able to assist or carry out the application.

There are solicitors that offer Deputyship services:

A list of firms approved by the Court of Protection is also available: Panel deputies: list of court-approved professionals

You cannot apply for a Deputyship if there is already one in place unless the COP withdraws this or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) already in place and registered with the OPG.

Acting in the best interest of the person you are apply for, once Deputyship has been granted, you are able to make decisions on their behalf, such as closing bank accounts and selling property, provided the direction from the COP allows it. However consideration must be taken into account that just because the individual lacks capacity to manage property and finances, they may still have the capacity to decide where they want to live. Limits may be set by the COP and you should always familiarise yourself with the conditions set out in your Court Order.

The court suggests that where a matter or decision is too complex, independent legal advice is sought by you as the Deputy on behalf of the individual you are acting for.

The Local Authority does not handle Deputyships for health and welfare and therefore we are unable to offer advice on such applications. For further information on this type of appointment visit the Become a deputy page on the Gov.uk website.

Fees that are payable for the Deputyship application can be found at Deputyship fees. These costs should be met by the person to whom the applications relates and not the Deputy.

Safeguarding

In all cases where the level of risk to the person or their property and financial affairs a safeguarding referral should be raised immediately.

If there is an Appointeeship in place, where possible every attempt to support that person to discharge their role correctly should be made before taking any further action. If this is not achievable, the DWP should be notified of your concerns so that they may also investigate this further and as a result they may wish to withdraw the Appointeeship.

This also applies should there be a Deputyship in place. The role is only authorised to the individual named on the Court Order and therefore should you suspect that this person is not discharging their role correctly you should contact the Office of the Public Guardian immediately so that they can undertake an investigation into the concern.

You should be mindful that a Deputy can make a decision that you do not agree with so long as they have applied all of the 5 statutory principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, including the Best Interests principle. If you have any concerns with a specific decision you should also notify the Office of the Public Guardian.

Personal Allowance

You must ensure that the individual in question has access to funds to meet their needs at all times before and during an application being made. This is called a Personal Allowance.

A Personal Allowance is discretionary spending for the individual and should be calculated taking into account their commitments such as their bills.

If the individual already has a bank account in their own name, you should speak to their banking provider to arrange for funds to be released to the individual in the meantime.

Reviews

Regular reviews should take place throughout the Appointeeship or Deputyship to ensure that it meets the needs of the person and that their best interests are being met and they are living a good quality of life that is affordable within their means. You should also review options for a less restrictive approach.

Where you become aware of any changes in the individuals circumstances you should report this to either the OPG or DWP so that they can assess if the Appointee or Deputyship is still required. This should also include but not limited to changes of address, illness and disability and marital status.

What should I do if I want to end my involvement?

Unless a person has died, there may be other reasons why you wish to terminate the service that you are providing. This might be because you have identified that the individual has regained capacity, you are no longer able to carry out this role or you have identified someone else willing to take on the role.

Firstly you should discuss this with either the OPG or DWP who will advise you further.

What happens if the person I support dies?

When the person you are supporting dies the designated bank account you have opened should be frozen to avoid any overpayments occurring. You should ensure that all payments in and out of the account are stopped and that the relevant departments/companies have been notified, this will include the Court, Benefits Office and Office of the Public Guardian.

Probate proceedings will then need to commence. You can find information about probate at Applying for probate.

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