On 14 December 2016 we held our second event for stakeholders and partners, with the theme ‘Planning for the future – meeting the needs of our ageing population’.
People from over 30 different organisations were there, representing a range of sectors including charities, health and social care partners, financial regulators and trade bodies, legal professionals and the utilities industry. We also heard from Dr Philip Lee, Minister for Victims, Youth and Family Justice and Baroness Ilora Finlay, Chair of the National Mental Capacity Forum. It was fantastic to hear the views of so many people and to share our combined knowledge and ideas.
We shared data on what we know about our lasting power of attorney (LPA) customers – comparing where in England and Wales they live with other data on socio-demographics, deputyship uptake, expected dementia prevalence rates and local authority funding cuts.
We’re still seeing a rise in uptake for LPAs (there are now over 2 million registered LPAs and over 2000 applications arrive at OPG every working day) however a key trend we are seeing, backed by our data, is that people living in less affluent areas of England and Wales are much less likely to create an LPA. This is either because they don’t know about the option to create one, or maybe they feel it’s just not relevant to them.
During our workshop sessions we heard that:
- There is a common misconception that lasting powers of attorney are only for wealthy people.
- There is a general lack of knowledge about how Health and Welfare LPAs can be used.
- Many people on low incomes who may qualify for a reduction of part or all of the LPA registration fees are not aware of this.
- Many people mistakenly believe that their status as next of kin affords certain rights to make decisions about family members
Baroness Finlay reminded us that positive messaging is the key to breaking down these barriers – emphasising the importance of empowering someone else to speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself.
Everyone at our event agreed that we need to find ways to reach out to all areas of society so that everyone can make an informed choice about creating a lasting power of attorney. More accessible information, such as real life scenarios and case studies, will be persuasive in delivering the message, so that people can fully understand how creating an LPA could benefit them and their family.
As a result of the event we have a wealth of good ideas on new ways OPG can work in partnership with other organisations already advising people on related issues like state benefits, pensions, retirement, life insurance, later life financial and care planning etc.
We’ll be looking at how these ideas can be brought into our business planning over the coming year and beyond, including awareness-raising campaigns, focused partnership work with other organisations and process improvements within OPG.
Do you have a positive experience of using a lasting power of attorney that you would be willing to share with others? If so please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org