A new guide has been published to help businesses better serve vulnerable customers.
The guide, published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), aims to help companies “act more consistently” when they see powers of attorney and deputy court orders.
A lasting power of attorney, also known as an LPA, is a court-appointed legal document which allows an individual to make decisions on someone else’s behalf who no longer has the mental capacity to do so.
This can include paying household bills, sorting out tax issues, managing bank, building society and savings accounts and dealing with pensions, benefits, shares, investments, insurance or property.
The guide, also supported by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), comes after research revealed that a number of financial services firms and utility companies were failing to provide straightforward and consistent information to staff and customers.
For example, under current conditions, a registered LPA may have significant trouble requesting sensitive information, such as a password and banking details, in order to pay an urgent bill.
In a joint foreword to the guide, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility at BEIS, Kelly Tolhurst, and Ministry of Justice Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Edward Argar, said: “Powers of attorney are a valuable tool that helps some of our country’s most vulnerable people have their affairs managed before or when they have lost mental capacity. However, those who act in the best interests of adults at risk often find the process of dealing with the companies they rely on both confusing and inconsistent.”
They added: “This guide sets out clear policies and advice. It provides clarity to the law and helpful information which can ease the burden and stresses that new and current care givers face on a day-to-day basis, by making their simple transactions as smooth and problem free as possible.”
To access the guide in full, please click here.