Office of the Public Guardian has published a practice note reminding local authorities of their legal obligations and duty of care when appointed as a deputy by the Court of Protection to manage the financial affairs of people who lack mental capacity.

The practice note advises local authorities considering changing from direct provision of a deputyship service to carefully consider the options available locally in order to ensure that vulnerable clients are not exposed to risk of financial abuse.

If entering into contractual arrangements with an external provider, the local authority must therefore satisfy itself that the provider is fit to handle the finances of vulnerable people.

It is not permitted to delegate duties outside the local authority. The practice note stresses that caution should be taken when contracting with or referring vulnerable clients to external deputyship providers.