Fears over financial abuse of vulnerable older people
Published on 21 October 2013 02:00 PM
A newspaper report claims there are an increasing number of cases where older people are being financially abused by relatives.
When a person is no longer considered mentally capable by the courts of taking care of their own finances, deputies are appointed to manage financial affairs on their behalf.
These people are usually close family members, taking on the responsibility of paying bills for their relatives and organising their finances.
Financial abuse ‘on the rise'
However, the Independent on Sunday reports that insurers and lawyers have noticed an increase in the number of people having their bank accounts wiped out by relatives who have been handed such roles.
Anecdotal evidence from experts such as Sean Tyrer, chief executive of the Money Carer Foundation, which specialises in supporting vulnerable people with their financial affairs, suggests that financial abuse in this area is on the rise.
Mr Tyrer says financial pressures faced by these relatives are increasingly leading them to exploit their position as fiscally responsible deputies.
He said: 'When times are hard, and the economic climate is as it is, and people are without work, people become desperate which can make them financially abuse someone close to them. When times are better they wouldn't be presented with the moral decision.'
There ‘must be a zero-tolerance approach' to abuse
Deputies are legally required to take out a bond that will be lost if they are found to be abusing their position and mismanaging their relative's money.
But the paper says it has spoken to a leading insurance firm, which wishes to remain anonymous, and says the number of claims it has received relating to such bonds has already exceeded last year's number.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: 'This trend is disturbing. This kind of abuse is usually a crime and should be treated as such.
'There must be a zero-tolerance approach to any abuse whether through neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty.
'We are pleased that the Care Bill will bring in a duty of care on local authorities to investigate such abuse.
'We fear that there are still many cases that are not reported, and we would encourage anyone who suspects that an older person is being abused to contact their social services department or the police straight away.'
Copyright Press Association 2013