New data on the timeliness of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) applications* has revealed that the well-documented delays affecting the process are beginning to ease.
Answering a parliamentary question from Labour MP Beth Winter regarding LPA applications, Mike Freer, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, provided monthly data for 2022 and the beginning of 2023.
Freer revealed that the average time to register and dispatch an LPA application was at its highest in October, at just over 20 weeks (102.22 working days), and this has since trended downwards to just under 18 weeks (89 working days) in February 2023.
The number of applications being dispatched in fewer than 10 weeks has remained under 1% for the last 12 months. There are, however, clear signs of improvement on the other end of the spectrum regarding the number of applications taking more than 20 weeks to be dispatched.
Specifically, 13.8% and 13.9% of applications were delayed by nearly half a year in August and October of last year respectively. This figure has since come down to an average of 6.6% over December, January, and February.
As such, as many as 94.3% of applications have been dispatched in under 20 weeks – the timeline given by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for customers during this period of backlogs. This is up from just 86.1% in October 2022.
However, while the data does show signs of improvement, registration timelines are still a world away from the OPG’s target of eight weeks. This, said Freer, is a result of the backlog created during the pandemic. He said:
“To work towards that [eight-week] target, OPG staff are working shift patterns to register LPAs, extra staff have been hired, and process efficiencies have been implemented.”
*The full application process starts from the date an application is received by OPG (the date that OPG receives payment for the LPA application), and the application process ends on the dispatch date. A week is defined as working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays.