It has always been my understanding that Appointees who manage a person’s benefits where the person lacks capacity to do so, do not in fact fall within the scope of the MCA (see assessing-capacity-financial-decisions-guidance-final.pdf (wordpress.com), page 91), and as suggested on the DWP website the consideration is in fact whether the person receiving the benefit ‘cannot manage their own affairs because they’re mentally incapable or severely disabled’ (Become an appointee for someone claiming benefits - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)).
However, in my role working for a local authority if a Social Worker, for example, believes that a person ‘cannot manage their own affairs because they’re mentally incapable or severely disabled’ I have always advised that before making a referral to the DWP or a local financial advocacy/appointee service that it would be good practice to complete a capacity assessment evidencing how we reached this conclusion.
Question 1: Do people agree with this approach?
What I am then often asked by practitioners is ‘what is the best interests decision’, if we do believe that the person lacks the capacity to ‘manage their own affairs’ (the benefits paid to them by the DWP)?
Question 2: Is there in fact a best interests decision to be made at this stage, or is it more, who do we feel is a ‘suitable person’ to act as an appointee (so a family member or a financial advocacy/appointee service) (see the DWP guidance ‘Next Steps’)?
My view would be, and please tell me if you disagree, is that a practitioner should evidence who we believe is the ‘suitable person’ and why we think this is the case, but that this is not in fact a best interests decision… What are the hive minds thoughts on this?
Question 3: Could it in fact also be the case that whilst the person ‘cannot manage their own affairs because they’re mentally incapable or severely disabled’ this does not mean that they cannot make the decision about who they would like to act as their appointee?
Now I am not sure about this, but I worry that this runs the risk of separating these 2 questions into artificial pigeon holes (see para 13 to 15 of Liverpool City Council v CMW  EWCOP 50). What are the hive minds view on this especially if one party who is asking to act as the appointee appears to have ulterior motives. Should this be looked at as a separate decision?
Question 4 (last question): I have just noticed that the ‘Guidance Agents, appointees, attorneys, deputies and third parties: staff guide’ [Withdrawn] Agents, appointees, attorneys, deputies and third parties: staff guide - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) was withdrawn on the 29th of July 2022, and I can’t find the replacement guidance. Any ideas as this was quite a helpful reference tool.