This is a plain language summary of the topics we talked about during our fourth CLARiTY Session.
We have not produced an easy read version of this information. Instead, we have included videos from the session from Rosie about managing money, and from Sophie on dealing with banks.
In CLARiTY session 4, we talked about three things:
- Dealing with banks
- Requesting accessible information
- Dealing with people in positions of power
The content of this session was driven by feedback from people with learning disabilities and family carers about things that they might need help with. Recurring questions and challenges people shared with us were about dealing with banks, requesting accessible information and dealing with people in positions of power.
Dealing with banks
Rosie Harding, Professor of Law and Society at the University of Birmingham, talked about everyday banking. She shared stories from her ‘Everyday Decisions’ project to explore challenges that people with learning disabilities are facing when trying to deal with banks and finances.
Rosie said that even though banking is an important and essential part of anyone’s everyday life, it is not easy for anybody and it is not something we are taught at schools. When there isn’t enough accessible information about banking, budgeting, dealing with finances it makes it even more difficult for people with learning disabilities to manage their finances effectively.
In this video, Rosie tells two stories about banking from participants in the Everyday Decisions Project. Gareth learned how to budget and manage his bank account using EasyRead statements. Alex gave his mum Lasting Power of Attorney to help him manage his finances. We talked about Lasting Power of Attorney in CLARiTY Session 3.
The EasyRead information from the Financial Conduct Authority on everyday banking that Rosie mentions is available here: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/documents/everyday-banking-easy-read-guide.pdf
Sophie O’Connell from Wolferstans Solicitors shared some helpful information on how to deal with banks. In her job as a solicitor, she often supports people to manage their money and she has many conversations with banks about how people can be supported without being restricted in how they manage their money.
Sophie said that banks are not easy to deal with and there is no simple legal solution to problems that people with learning disabilities and family carers can rely on. In her talk, which you can watch below, Sophie talked about a document written by the British Banking Association. Even though the Association no longer exists, this document is still available and has lots of useful suggestions for people with learning disabilities and family carers who have problems with banking.
The link to the document that Sophie mentions: [https://www.bba.org.uk/news/reports/improving-outcomes-for-customers-in-vulnerable-circumstances/#.YDjUZS2l2MI]. Sophie introduced a number of concepts and ways in which allow someone else to help learning disabled people with managing their account. She found other guidance from the British Banking Association to be helpful [https://www.bba.org.uk/publication/leaflets/guidance-for-people-wanting-to-manage-a-bank-account-for-someone-else-2/]
In this video, Sophie talks about:
- Third party mandates on bank accounts. This is a document you can get from your bank to give someone else access to your bank account. You must have mental capacity to do this. For more information on mental capacity see our summary from session two here [link to supported decision-making summary].
- Power of attorney: For more information about the lasting power of attorney for financial matters see our summary from session 3.
- Appointees: Sophie explains that the appointee system can be used to help someone manage their benefits payments. Only one appointee can act on behalf of someone who is entitled to benefits. An appointee can be a ‘suitable’ individual, for example a friend or a family member, or it can be a solicitor or a local council. Appointees only have responsibilities around maintaining any benefits claims. They might include: signing the benefit claim form; tell the benefit office about any important changes in person’s circumstances; spending the benefit money in claimant’s best interests because the benefits are paid directly to you; and inform relevant parties if you stop being an appointee (this might happen if the person has capacity to manage their own finances). To find out more about ‘Best interests’ under the Mental Capacity Act, you can read our summary or CLARiTY Session 2. To become an appointee, you will need to contact the office from which benefits are being claimed.
- Deputyship: Deputyship is another useful way for some people to get help with managing their finances. Deputies are only appropriate in some circumstances and to find out more about this see our summary from session 3 here.
ID for opening bank accounts
At the session, we talked about the kinds of ID that banks will require to open accounts. Banks usually require two forms of ID – one for your identity and one for your address. The easiest forms of photographic ID to use are a passport and a driving license. Someone asked what happens if you do not have a passport or a driving licence to use as ID.
Check on the bank website before your visit a branch to open an account to make sure that you know what kinds of ID they will accept. Banks will usually accept birth certificates and benefit entitlement letters as proof of ID. There is usually a list of different kinds of ID that they will accept on their website.
There is no national identity card system in the UK, but there are some options that may be useful for some people. We talked about these two schemes in the session:
Citizen Card: https://www.citizencard.com
This scheme gives people a chance to apply for a photographic ID without needing to have a passport or a driving licence. Citizen Card uses the PASS hologram, which is endorsed by the Home Office and the police, but it may not always be accepted by banks as proof of identity. It is useful as a proof of age card (e.g., in shops and bars), and can be used as photographic ID for internal (UK) flights. CitizenCard charge a fee for their service.
DID Card: https://www.did-card.co.uk
The Disabled ID card is a way to prove disability status, for example to access discounts or carer passes without having to carry important personal documents (like benefit letters) around with you. You have to pay a fee to get a DID Card.
Requesting Accessible Information
Rosie talked about the Accessible Information Standard. This is a legal duty that applies to all publicly funded health and social care services. It was first introduced in 2016 and it applies across adult social care services, GPs, dentists, hospital etc. The Accessible Information Standard means that people who use a service and have information or communication needs because of a disability or an impairment, or some kind of sensory loss like visual or hearing impairment are entitled to information in a form that is accessible to them. It covers needs of all people who need to have information given in different ways.
Health and social care services are required to identify who has information and communication needs and they have make to make a record of that. This is important, as it should stop people with communication needs having to ask for accessible information on many occasions.
Accessible Information Standard: legal remedies
During the session, someone asked whether there are any legal remedies that can be accessed if the standard is not followed.
Sophie suggested making a complaint directly to the organisation that failed to follow the standard. If this does not resolve your complaint, you may wish to complaint to the Health Ombudsman, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman or the Care Quality Commission.
To find out more about Ombudsman see the summary from our session 2. To find out more about how to complain, the information in CLARiTY Session 5 about challenging Care Act decisions might also be useful.
Dealing with people in positions of power
We invited a special guest to session 3, Liz Peel, Professor of Communication and Social Interaction, at Loughborough University. Liz gave us about some useful tips when trying to communicate effectively with people in positions of power. The key points from her talk were:
- Remember that all conversation has goals – both sides want to achieve something. The smoother everyone can make that interaction, the more likely that those goals will be achieved, even if you don’t all have the same goals.
- Remember that people you think are powerful people may not always have a powerful agenda. Most people want to make things better, not worse.
- Be prepared! know what you want to get out of the interaction, which could be going with the flow, doing good listening, but also having an idea of the outcome you would like. Try to go into all conversations with good faith.
- Work as a team. It can be a good idea to have a supporter with you. This might be a friend, family member, advocate or personal assistant. Have a plan that uses your support person about how to work together in the conversation. You could, for example, decide that your supporter will check that you understand things, or ask the powerful person to explain more clearly. If you find the powerful person is directing the conversation at your supporter, they can bring you back into the conversation. A good way to do this is to use body language: if your supporter physically turns towards you, it can help to signal to the powerful person that you need to be involved in the conversation.
- Try to stay calm. It is fine to be emotional but getting angry or upset can be disruptive and prevent either party in the conversation from getting what they want out of it.
- Be aware of words/phrases that signal things in conversation:
- “Well” – this often means you are about to give someone a complicated answer, one that is neither a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.
- “But“ – it means you are undermining what you just said.
- “Anything else/Something else” – research shows that when people use ‘anything else?’ this often results in nothing new being added, but when people use ‘something else?’ in conversation, this seems to empower the other person to respond.
- Storytelling: telling stories can be very powerful. Keep it simple, the most compelling stories have a beginning, and a middle and an end and a key message they try to get across.