OPG due to repay over £89m for excessive LPA charges
Lasting powers of attorney fees charged by the Office of the Public Guardian have been admittedly excessive over the last four years.
This is according to the OPG itself, who have admitted that the fees charged were above the costs involved in order to process the application. Without specific legislative authority, government agencies are unable to do this.
The OPG have attributed the error to the growing number of LPAs that have been registered for in recent years. It stated: ‘Increased volumes, coupled with greater efficiencies in processing applications, have resulted in fees being charged above the operational cost of delivering the service, without the Ministry of Justice having exercised the power provided by legislation to allow us to do this.’
Regarding the excess charges, the OPG have stated that refunds – an estimated £89 million – will be paid to the thousands of affected customers in the current financial year. They went on to say that full details will be provided in ‘due course’.
Commenting on the improvements that they intend to make, the OPG stated: ‘We are committed to taking such steps as are necessary to make sure that people are made aware of, and receive, the refunds to which they are entitled’ said the agency. ‘We will be working closely with MoJ and its new income strategy unit, which will oversee the standards and controls set for all income streams. We have also made a number of improvements to the way in which we forecast demand and associated costs, in order to enable us to base fee proposals on robust evidence and to ensure compliance with requirements set by HM Treasury.’
The excessive fees have since been reduced, with the OPG lowering the LPA registration fees on 1 April 2017, down to £82. However, as this is over the cost of supplying the service, the amount is still classed as an ‘enhanced fee’. The surplus is used to fund OPG functions which operate at a loss – something which it is permitted to do under special provisions within the Anti-social Behaviour Act.