New guidance has been issued by the Department for Work and Pensions in relation to dealing with appointees, attorneys and deputies.
If an individual becomes unable to manage their own benefits, it may be possible for a third party to do this on their behalf. The ways in which this can be done would usually be as an appointee, attorney or deputy. Any of these options requires careful consideration and responsibility.
An appointee arrangement would only be appropriate where the person unable to manage their affairs has no savings and their only source of income is from state benefits (whether means or non-means tested).
Where a person has made more formal arrangements for the management of their affairs, for example by making an Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney, this should be sent to the DWP or other government body and they will update their records to enable the attorney to correspond with the DWP and make a claim for means or non-means tested benefits on behalf of the person who is unable to do this for themselves.
Where a person does not have an attorney and an appointee arrangement is not appropriate, a deputy should be appointed by the Court of Protection to enable benefits to be dealt with.
For all of these options, the person receiving the benefits is acting in a position of trust and must ensure that the funds are used for the benefit of the person to whom they relate, careful records are kept and the DWP, or other organisation making the payments, is advised of any changes to the incapacitated person’s circumstances, such as if they are admitted to hospital. The person the claim relates to should be involved with the claim, receiving, investing and spending the funds and if they are able to make a decision with regard to any of these elements for themselves, they must do so. A third party would have no authority to make a decision in such circumstances.