Additional Support Needed For Those With Borderline Capacity

A recent study has claimed that more needs to be done to help people with mental health issues to better manage their finances.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute have found that 42% of people who have experienced mental health problems wanted support and guidance with money management from friends and family.

However, the report has found that a lack of awareness from staff and poor third-party access tools are restricting carers, friends and family members from helping their loved ones manage their finances without resorting to dangerous means.

When a fifth of people with mental health problems need help paying bills and an eighth of respondents need help managing a budget (12%) or dealing with official emails and letters (13%), it was suggested that more needs to be done to help ease the burden.

Currently, people are being forced to use workarounds in order to easily allow third parties to help manage the finances of those with mental health issues. Almost half (43%) have allowed another person to use their debit or credit card with a fifth sharing their online banking details with a loved one.

19% of vulnerable individuals permit the use of their credit or debit cards being used at least once a week by a third-party with 15% granting access to their online banking facilities on a weekly basis as well.

The report exposed a lack of awareness of the ways financial institution and businesses are able to help those with mental health issues. Despite an array of British energy companies offering bill nominee schemes, only 8% of customers were aware of their existence.

Similarly, employees are lacking education around third-party financial tools for those with borderline capacity or temporary problems.

For many, who anticipate their mental health issues will be overcome, lasting power of attorney (LPA) documentation unnecessarily and drastically reduces their decision making powers and controls at a time when they only need temporary financial help. Indeed, a third (32%) would not contemplate committing to this protection.

Overall, the majority of participants, including those with mental health issues and stakeholders looking to support them, like cares, believe that current systems increase the risk of abuse, delegate too much power to third parties, and lose privacy.

Half of participants (53%) were worried they could be taken advantage of and 60% of carers thought that both themselves and the person they care for are at risk.

The report recommends that firms take immediate action to improve staff training around recognising LPA and third-party mechanisms. It believes that a simple alert system to a third party when finances fall below an agreed amount could help them to manage the account without taking control.

The report also suggests that the government Social Care Green Paper should address the challenges carers face in regards to helping those with borderline capacity.

The report claims that the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) should also consider the structures that could be put in place as part of its 2025 transformation initiative.

Kelly Greig, Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, commented:

“A lot of banks can’t deal with the grey areas. If someone has a power of attorney or another agreement the banks often want to take all their decision-making powers away, while many just need help with some but not all their financial decisions, depending on their condition.

“Front-line staff don’t always understand what the rules are and their systems do not allow for dynamic arrangements that give access as and when it’s needed.”

“Currently the system simply does not work for someone with borderline capacity or temporary problems, such as mental health – it’s just too cumbersome. But getting around it with quick fixes like giving out your details is a huge risk.”

How difficult is it to help those with borderline capacity? Should more formal help be put in place?

Read for full report here.

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