Lasting Power Of Attorney Refund Scheme Loses Momentum
Less than a quarter of those entitled to a claim a refund from the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) refund scheme have been refunded their over payment.
Up to 16th September, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) had handled 223,759 refunds with 84% of all applications approved and refunded, according to a freedom of information request (FoI) made by Today’s Wills and Probate.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced that anyone overcharged for lasting power of attorney fees between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017 are entitled to a partial refund.
The original estimates predicted that a total figure of around £89 million could be recovered by customers overcharged during these dates.
According to the MoJ, the process to register for enduring powers of attorney became more efficient during this period and as a result, operating costs for the Office of the Public Guardian came down. However, the fee charged for the application did not reduce in line with this. The fee was subsequently lowered by the MoJ, a change which came into effect 1st April 2017.
Currently, the OPG and MoJ have repatriated over £14 million with consumers overcharged between 2013 and 2017; a figure that is losing momentum and suggests that many of those overcharged could be unaware of their entitlement.
Potentially, this means hundreds of thousands of people overcharged could fail to meet the February 2021 deadline and would risk losing the refund they are entitled to.
In September, Today’s Wills and Probate obtained exclusive figures from a Freedom of Information request six months after the refund scheme was launched. As of 28 August 2018, the OPG had handled 158,212 official refund requests, returning in excess of £10 million.
By the end of 2018, a mere 203,000 people entitled to a refund had successfully made a claim with the OPG and MoJ paying out £10.3 million. After a year into the LPA refund scheme’s launch, only £12 million had been paid out by February.
Currently, with only 20,759 applicants claiming a refund since Christmas last year, figures suggest the scheme is losing momentum when compared with the 203,000 applications made in the opening 11 months of the scheme.
If public awareness is losing traction, the Government should be actively involved in advertising and promoting the issue with additional effort and gusto.
Helen Morrissey, of Royal London, said:
“The refund option has been available for some time now and, as yet, only a small proportion of people have submitted a claim.
“The onus really is on the Government to sort it out. It should be contacting people who have not yet claimed to make sure they get their money back.”
Whilst each individual refund value ranges from £37 to £108 may deter many people who feel the hassle in applying equates to more than the refund itself, should the Government actively ensure it does everything possible to hand back what is owed to the public?