Lasting powers of attorney are taking nearly three months to register – double the Office of the Public Guardian’s target, the government has revealed.
Justice minister Tom Pursglove confirmed in a written parliamentary answer that the current average time to register an LPA is 81.8 days. The OPG’s target is 40 days. Nearly all LPAs registered this year took more than 12 weeks.
Pursglove said the OPG must carry out checks on receipt of the LPA before issuing a notice and wait four weeks to allow for objections before the registration process can be completed.
‘This statutory waiting period cannot be waived and is included in the calculation for the number of days to register an LPA. We know the delays are frustrating for customers and we are committed to reducing the time it is currently taking to register LPAs,’ he added.
According to the government’s figures, 1.2% of LPAs took over 12 weeks to be registered in 2019-20, rising to 33.8% in 2020-21 and 74.3% in 2021-22. Nearly all (99%) LPAs registered this calendar year have taken more than 12 weeks.
Pursglove said OPG staff were working day and night to tackle the Covid backlog.
‘Frontline operational staff whose role requires them to be office-based have worked in the office throughout the pandemic and continue to do so. The OPG rapidly changed working practices and processes during the pandemic to continue to deliver their services. In 2020 to 2021, the OPG processed an average of 53,000 LPA applications per month despite the many restrictions in place. This rose to an average of 60,000 per month in the last financial year, reaching over 70,000 in March 2022. The OPG have also hired extra staff, which is having an impact, with the number of LPAs being registered each month back to what it was before the pandemic.’
Last month the government unveiled plans to modernise LPAs and speed up the registration process. A statutory waiting period will remain as part of the objections process for registering an LPA. However, the government said it would investigate what the appropriate length should be in a future service, accounting for other changes to the objections process across digital and paper channels.