The Office of the Public Guardian for England and Wales (OPG) has included developing an online service for the register of lasting powers of attorney in their six year plan.
The role of the OPG is to protect individuals who do not have the capacity to do so themselves. Their duties are to:
• supervise deputies appointed by the court of protection;
• register lasting and enduring powers of attorney (LPAs and EPAs);
• keep a register of LPAs, EPAs and deputy court orders;
• deal with concerns about deputies and registered attorneys.
The register of LPAs, EPAs, and deputy court orders is now searchable by the general public, and the OPG says one of the aims of its new strategy is to help people do this. In particular, it plans to work closely with safeguarding partners in the NHS and local authorities, so that doctors, nurses and social workers can check that LPAs, EPAs, and deputy court orders are valid.
Part of its six year plan is to improve its online services and make applying to register for an LPA easier.
A partial solution was introduced in 2015, with an online application form that can be completed and checked electronically, but still has to be printed out before being physically signed and posted to the OPG. A change in legislation is needed before a fully online LPA can be introduced with digital authentication; without the need for a so-called ‘wet’ signature.
The OPG’s strategy aims to:
• increase awareness among safeguarding partners of its role and responsibilities;
• work more closely with safeguarding partners to prevent concerns arising;
• use a ‘no wrong door’ approach to deal with all concerns that are reported to it;
• encourage a working culture which puts the user first;
• provide greater support for its users.
The OPG says it is still continuing its discussions with the Ministry of Justice and other interested parties on a way forward that will ease the process. Any improvement on the application and register of LPAs will be welcome by the public.