HL Deb 29 March 2001 vol 624 cc48-51WA
Lord Dubs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to reform the Public Trust Office. [HL1516]

The Lord Chancellor

On 1 April 2001 the Public Guardianship Office will become a new executive agency of my department. Also from 1 April 2001, the Public Trust Office's Court Funds Office will transfer to the Court Service and its trust work to the Office of the Official Solicitor. The Public Trust Office will cease to exist.

The Public Guardianship Office will discharge the Court of Protection's decisions on behalf of people with mental incapacity. In creating the Public Guardianship Office, I wish to promote and protect the financial and social well-being of people with mental incapacity by providing a seamless service that is responsive to their needs. The Public Guardianship Office will provide a service which will strike the right balance between protecting the vulnerable while avoiding unnecessary state intervention.

I will retain ministerial accountability for the new agency's performance. The Chief Executive of the Public Guardianship Office will have clear responsibilities for improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service. These responsibilities are set out in the agency's Framework Document, which will be published and copies placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

A corporate and business plan setting out the Public Guardianship Office's plans to achieve its aim and objectives over the first three years of its operation will be published and copies placed in the Libraries of both Houses. I have set the following Key Performance Measures to challenge the Public Guardianship Office to provide a high quality and efficient service to its clients while developing increasing professionalism as an organisation.


KPM 1: To develop an effective system for identifying clients' needs.

To develop and implement a comprehensive needs assessment system by 31 March 2004.

KPM 2: To increase the proportion of effective visits.

To maintain the current level of visits and to develop appropriate criteria as a basis to measure improvements in effectiveness by end June 2001, thereafter to announce challenging targets against which to measure the Public Guardianship Office's performance in increasing the proportion of effective visits.

KPM 3: To increase the percentage of accounts collected on time and reviewed on time, as a basis for effective action to meet clients' needs.

To complete the review of 95 per cent of accounts received or have requested further information within six weeks of receipt.

To collect 50 per cent of accounts within two months of the accounting end date, 70 per cent within four months of the accounting end date; and 100 per cent within six months of the accounting end date, referring cases to the Court of Protection where necessary or taking other steps to ensure proper accounts are produced on behalf of clients.

KPM 4: To improve investment performance.

To ensure that annually 85 per cent and on a three-year rolling basis 80 per cent of measured funds perform in line with a model performance based upon the Association of Private Client and Investment Managers' (APCIMS) capital indices; or an acceptable performance is achieved, taking into account the clients' overall circumstances, including the income generated.

KPM 5: To secure an improved service in:

  • responding to correspondence
  • payment out
  • providing information to receivers to enable them to support our clients
  • closing cases
and to survey at two yearly intervals to ensure that these are the most important areas for customer care.

Responding to Letters: Respond to 85 per cent of letters, faxes and e-mails within 15 working days of receipt and 95 per cent in 20 days.

Payment out: For 95 per cent of requests, pay out or despatch direction to external receiver allowing access to funds to use for benefit of client within 15 working days of receipt.

Information to Receivers: Despatch court orders and directions to applicants, receivers or their representatives in 95 per cent of cases within 30 days of their being made.

Closing cases: For 95 per cent of complete applications for final directions, transfer all of clients' assets to personal representatives within 25 days.

KPM 6: To establish protocols for working with our receivers and our partners setting out the outcomes we intend to achieve jointly for clients.

To establish protocols with the key bodies with whom the Public Guardianship Office has regular dealings by April 2002, setting out the outcomes to be achieved jointly for clients and memorandums of understanding setting out the ways the office and its partners will work together to achieve those outcomes.

KPM 7: To demonstrate our capability through a basket of measures:

  • percentage of staff having required skills and competencies
  • percentage receiving training
  • an effective research programme which underpins planning to meet clients' needs
  • development of an automated case management system.

Staff Skills and Competencies: At least 90 per cent of permanent staff to have a current Personal Development Plan which identifies their learning and development needs and makes specific plans to develop their skills and competencies to defined standards.

Staff Training: At least 75 per cent of permanent staff to receive at least three days' training in line with their Personal Development Plan.

Research: To complete at least one research study by 31 March 2002 and develop and publish a detailed research plan by 31 March 2002.

Automated case management system (MERIS): To award the contract for an automated case management system to a supplier before end of third quarter 2001–02; design and development by supplier to commence before the end of the fourth quarter 2001–02.

KPM 8: Cost per unit.

To develop an appropriate unit cost per case as a basis to measure improvements in efficiency by end June 2001. To announce targets for 2001–02 requiring improvements in efficiency based on the unit cost.