A private client partner at UK law firm Wedlake Bell has called on the UK Government to commission a Parliamentary report or inquiry into taking action on the issue of financial abuse of the elderly.
Ann Stanyer, a Wedlake Bell partner and author of ‘Financial Abuse of Older Clients: Law, Practice and Prevention’, has seen a significant rise in the number of elderly clients she advises who have been defrauded by family members and other carers.
In order to bring this issue to light, Ms Stanyer made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and examined the most recent annual report and accounts from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
Figures from the FOIA showed that between January 2013 and June 2017, the CQC received 12,968 official reports, where investigated allegations of financial abuse were made to the Commission.
During that period, the highest number of victims were within the three age bands of 65-74, 75-84 and 85+. In 2016, the figures showed that there were 329, 530 and 848 safeguarding records made for each of the respective age bands, highlighting how financially vulnerable the UK’s elderly population is.
Additionally, the OPG’s 2016/17 annual report and accounts revealed that during this period 5,327 safeguarding referrals were received, a 15 percent decrease from the previous year. However, due to a change in counting method, this figure only accounts for those cases reported, or those that the OPG has sufficient information about and warrant a further investigation.
Ms Stanyer, believes that the key to tackling this “serious and hidden crime” is by doing more research so people are more aware of this widespread problem amongst the elderly population.
She said: “Financial abuse of the elderly is a crime that goes on behind closed doors and is compounded by the fact that it involves victims who are often frail, vulnerable and feel isolated. On top of this they entrust those family members and other carers to look after their financial affairs and are therefore in many cases oblivious to a crime being perpetrated.”
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