Our experience working with Local Authorities
Hugh Jones solicitors have extensive experience of assisting Local Authorities in relation to mental capacity, welfare and court of protection issues. We have particular expertise in the field of dementia which is based on a thorough understanding of the needs of clients with dementia and of vulnerable adults.
Local Authorities are often presented with a range capacity issues which can involve sensitive and complex decisions. Best interest decisions often arise in relation to the provision of care and before making the decision: it is important to be clear that the client does lack capacity. Bearing in mind the presumption of capacity within the guidelines, assessing capacity is often a difficult issue and is fundamental to how you interact with the client and their family.
Typically, an elderly person may be living in the community with support from a local authority, but in deteriorating health and circumstances. Decisions have to be made about future residence. Deciding to moving a person into a care home, or not returning them home after a spell in hospital, if they lack capacity, is a deprivation of liberty. These decisions can involve conflict with the client and family members.
Everyone does want to do what is best, but there can be many views on what is best for a loved one. Hugh Jones Solicitors have the necessary experience to assist Local Authorities with welfare issues and in acting as a Welfare Deputy to ensure the correct procedure is followed resulting in the right decision.
In additional there can be a raft of financial issues intrinsic to the decision. There may be a property from which funds need to be released to improve the quality of life for the client, fund their care, discharge outstanding care fees and if capacity is in issue, a deputy needs resolve these issues. The client may have assets which need to be actively managed, such as a buy to let property which needs to be maintained and the rents collected to the benefit of the client. It is important for the client and the Local Authority that funds can be accessed and managed in the client’s best interests. Local Authorities may not always have the experience or the capacity to act as a financial deputy.
Hugh Jones Solicitors have extensive experience working with Local Authorities and other statutory bodies in relation to these types of issues. We can arrange a capacity assessment and undertake the necessary application to the Court of Protection.
We can take on the role of Deputy through the Hugh Jones Trust Corporation and our extensive experience of managing financial affairs means we can deal with all aspects of a client’s finances, not just the day to day payment of bills, but also money management and financial planning for the future.
Our Quality Service and Value for Money
Naturally you need to be sure that the vulnerable person is placed in safe hands. Hugh Jones is a specialist firm dedicated to this area of work and vulnerable clients. We have won awards including the prestigious Step Award 2015-2016;and we are rated in the No 1 band of the Legal 500 for this type of work in the North West.
You can be assured that we offer value for money, an important point when deciding who to approach to be a professional Deputy. One of the ways we achieve this is by charging less than many of other firms. Our location within the Salford boundary means that we charge National 2 rates, which are lower than National 1 rates, applied by most of the larger City Centre law firms including those in the Manchester city center zone. We also work in teams which are structured to ensure that work undertaken is at the appropriate level and pay grade to keep costs to a minimum. We know how important it is to have skilled and experienced staff; we have a high ratio of legally qualified staff ensuring that the quality of our work is not compromised whilst still offering value for money.
We take seriously the support of our vulnerable clients and have developed our Elderly and Vulnerable client policy as part of our quality standards and internal training processes. We realise that it is important to ensure that vulnerable clients are treated sympathetically. Our policy is designed to ensure that at all times in their dealings with us, they and their relatives are treated with dignity, kindness and respect at all times.
One of our existing Local Authority clients has recently stated:
“For some years Sefton Council has struggled to find a firm which would provide a quality service in the specialist area of financial deputyship but thankfully Hugh Jones Solicitors are such a firm. Feedback from social workers who have referred clients to the firm has been very positive.”
Our support to you: Free Confidential Helpline and Training
When working alongside clients in difficult circumstances, sometime you may find it hard to know what to do, to decide if capacity is a problem, identify the welfare issue and you want to do the right thing. We are responsive and supporting; there is always someone at the end of a phone to talk to and get help and legal support. You can call our confidential helpline (0161 819 7449) or email if you prefer to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have concerns about a vulnerable person and would like a legal view and advice.
We offer training to Local Authorities to help key workers identify mental capacity and welfare issues and to act appropriately. We can deliver bespoke training to a group, and also training on the standards of conduct for professional and local authorities introduced by the Office of Public Guardian in July 2015 - very important for all local authority personnel acting as deputies. In addition we offer training on the new costs rules 2016 which now require deputies to lodge a 12 month budget in respect of their projected costs.
We are a legal practice focussed on Court of Protection, deputyship and capacity issues with detailed specialist knowledge in all areas of mental capacity. As you may expect, Hugh Jones Solicitors are members of the Panel of Deputies appointed by the Office of Public Guardian.
For more information about our service to local authorities and to access the free confidential helpline call Tom Young on 0161 819 7449