MoJ opts against payment reform to Mental Capacity Act
By Monidipa Fouzder >>
(28 February 2023)
The Mental Capacity Act will not be changed to make it easier for parents to access child savings accounts after the child turns 18, the government confirmed today. The Ministry of Justice will instead raise awareness about the need to obtain legal authority before a child turns 18 and work with the Court of Protection to improve the application process.
Legal authority can be granted through a lasting power of attorney or by applying to the Court of Protection. However, families say existing processes to access the accounts are lengthy, difficult to navigate and costly.
The government consulted on setting up a small payments scheme that would allow parents to access up to £2,500 from child trust funds and junior ISAs after a child who lacks mental capacity turns 18.
However, while an overwhelming majority of consultation respondents – including the Law Society – supported the establishment of such a scheme, the ministry said there was no clear consensus on how the scheme could be set up and operate safely.
The ministry said a lack of awareness about the Mental Capacity Act, including the need to obtain legal authority, and operational barriers in the current court application process were the ‘root causes’ of parents not being able to access funds.
The ministry’s consultation response states that new digital processes piloted in the Court of Protection have cut processing times from 24 weeks to two months. The digital process was rolled out to professional court users in January and to the general public this month. These changes ‘should make the forms more accessible and easier to complete, while also reducing application processing times’.
In a statement, justice minister Mike Freer MP said: ‘I understand how frustrating parents have found trying to access these savings accounts while looking after children with disabilities and severe learning difficulties. Our consultation has exposed, however, that a new scheme would be just as complex to set up and navigate and may put the finances of those we all want to protect at greater risk. Instead, simplifying the current system is already ensuring that families can access the money they have saved quicker while maintaining the vital safeguards that prevent abuse and fraud.’
(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)