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Discussion Document - Supporting Vulnerable Adults to Manage Their Finances June 15, 2020

Most adults take for granted the right to have full access to their own money and the right to spend it as they choose, even when that spending may, in the opinion of others, not always be particularly “wise”.

There are however adults living in a variety of settings, including the homes of relatives in the community, who, due to intellectual or other disability or brain injury need support in accessing their money in order to spend it as they see fit. The degree of that support varies from person to person and, like other abilities, can vary over time.

Sage Advocacy, having consulted widely with stakeholders in the statutory and voluntary sectors involved in money management for these groups of adults who are vulnerable, have now brought together in one document the Regulatory Framework and Legislative Provisions that apply to the management of the personal finances of people in residential care services.

The document (Best Practice in Supporting Adults Who May Be Vulnerable to Manage Their Own Finances - A Discussion Document) sets out the relevant provisions of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which will apply once that legislation is fully ‘commenced’, before setting out the various needs of ALL individuals in respect of their own money; identified as empowerment,  accessibility,  accountability, and safeguarding as well as the more obvious personal, social and comfort needs.

In Section three of the document we have suggested three different approaches to providing assistance to people who require support with managing their own money against a background of, unfortunately, increasing reports of the financial abuse of vulnerable adults. These three approaches range from minimal support to full support depending on the ability of the individual themselves. Each approach is assessed by the effectiveness of it in meeting the identified needs and in Appendix One specific examples are given of the use of each approach and how and when an individual may need to transition from one approach to another as their ability to manage their own money increases or decreases.

This document also discusses the role of families in assisting a relative who resides with them in the community and who needs support to manage their own money. Although it is considered that there may be a large number of vulnerable adults involved, we believe there has up until now  been no public discussion or guidance given to those families in relation to the management of their relative’s own money.

Sage Advocacy welcomes feedback from all sources in relation to the content of this document. It is our hope that it will encourage wider discussion about the rights of all adults (no matter what their individual vulnerability or disability) to have full access to their own money, their duty to use it to meet their ordinary living expenses and to spend the rest, if there is anything left over, as they see fit.

We would like to express our appreciation to all who have contributed to the development of this document.  Most especially, we wish to thank Dr Michael Browne who has been a patient and skilled editor during a long process.

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