Deputyship fee refunds scheme launched
The government has launched a refund scheme for people who were charged more than was necessary for certain deputyship fees charged for any period between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2015.
Deputyship is when someone is authorised to make decisions for someone who “lacks mental capacity”. For example, because they have dementia and are unable to make decisions for themselves.
Deputies are appointed by the Court of Protection to look after the affairs of someone who’s already lost capacity but didn’t have a Power of Attorney in place.
A deputy must pay the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) an assessment fee (currently £100) and an annual supervision fee (usually £320 a year). Some people can pay a reduced fee of £35 a year if they’re managing less than £21,000 and need a lower level of supervision.
But about 82,000 people paying these fees were overcharged between April 2008 and March 2015. The Ministry of Justice says that the number of deputyships has risen faster than expected, making it difficult to predict costs accurately. As a result, over a seven-year period the fees charged didn’t match how much it actually cost the OPG to supervise deputies.
The Ministry of Justice, which sets OPG’s fees, has now launched a refund scheme for those who paid higher fees for the qualifying period. The scheme will be run by OPG and does not apply to fees paid to the OPG Scotland, the Office of Care and Protection in Northern Ireland or the Court of Protection.
How to get a refund
How much you’ll be refunded depends on how much you paid in fees and at what rate, as well as how long you paid for and whether you have any unpaid fees. Refunds will include 0.5 per cent interest on top of the amount that was overpaid.
Current deputies acting for existing clients do not need to apply. The OPG will be in touch with deputies in the coming weeks to arrange any refunds due.
If you are a former client now able to make all your own decisions, the former client’s attorney or acting on behalf of someone who has died, then you will need to apply for a refund.
Only one application form needs to be completed for each former client; OPG will then find all qualifying fees paid by them during the period.
Full guidance for those applying is available online and there is a dedicated refunds helpline for those who need it. If you, or someone you are acting for, thinks they may be eligible visit www.gov.uk/deputyship-refund for more details and to apply.