LPA registration delays improving – but at cost of complaints

LPA registration delays improving – but at cost of complaints

LPAs are now taking 73 days to be registered, according to Tom Pursglove MP. While still way above the Office of the Public Guardian’s (OPG) target of 40 days, this is a marked improvement from the striking 81-day wait reported several weeks back.

Liberal Democrat MP Helen Morgan asked Mr Pursglove, “what [was] the average time taken by the OPG to register LPAs … from the date of receipt of orders during the period between 1 June 2021 and 31 May 2022”.

Mr Pursglove said that the average time taken by the OPG to register an LPA in this period was 73 days. He also confirmed to Morgan that this has risen from just 39 days in the period June 2018 – May 2019. Explaining the delays, Mr Pursglove said:

“It should be noted that OPG must carry out checks on receipt of the LPA before notices are issued, and then must observe a statutory waiting period of 4 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. OPG know that delays are frustrating for customers, and they are committed to reducing the time it is currently taking to register LPAs.”

Mr Pursglove previously provided statistics to parliament showing that 99% of LPAs registered in 2022 had taken over 12 weeks. Just 0.8% took over 12 weeks in 2018-19, with 91.2% registered within 8 weeks. In 2019-20, just 1.2% took over 12 weeks. This rose sharply to 33.8% and then 74.3% in 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively.

Morgan went on to quiz Mr Pursglove on the effectiveness of the complaints process for members of the public corresponding with the OPG. He said:

“OPG manage customer complaints through a tiered complaints process. Complaints are initially handled by the business area responsible, which is the ‘first tier’. If a customer is unhappy with the response, the complaint can be escalated to the ‘second tier’ complaints team. At this stage the complaint, and its handling, is reviewed by the Public Guardian or a member of the senior leadership team on their behalf. If a customer is not satisfied with the response to their complaint, they can ask an MP to refer their complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman for an independent review.”

Mr Pursglove went on to concede that the backlog in processing LPAs has impacted the OPG’s ability to respond to complaints, though he did not give an exact figure:

“The target for responding to complaints is 10 working days. OPG is currently experiencing backlogs in processing LPAs and the corresponding increase in correspondence has had an impact on OPG’s ability to respond to complaints within the target. OPG understands the importance of customers receiving timely responses to complaints. In order to improve the service that is provided, OPG has recruited more staff to process LPAs and to respond to complaints, which is already having a positive impact on the length of time customers wait to receive a response.”

Jamie Lennox