Advice and assistance and financial eligibility: assessment of capital

Assessing and verifying capital - including applicants in receipt of passport/non passport benefits

An introduction to assessing and verifying capital of applicants – Including those in receipt of passport/non passport benefits     

We recommend you get details of the client’s capital position first, as it can sometimes be easier to do (for example, by simply examining of a bank statement) and because it allows you to address any misunderstandings about eligibility at an early stage.

At the date of this guidance, if the client’s capital exceeds £1,716 they are ineligible for advice and assistance, regardless of their disposable income, unless the disregard for applicants of pensionable age applies. You should check the Keycard for current eligibility levels. They are ineligible even if they are receiving a passported benefit. This point is important as many applicants, and some solicitors, have mistakenly thought receiving a passported benefit in itself makes the client financially eligible for advice and assistance. Someone may hold capital well over £1,716, in some cases up to £16,000 and still qualify for a range of benefits, including passported benefits. They may have up to £6,000 with no effect on entitlement to any of the passported benefits, any excess between £6,001 and £16,000 affecting not eligibility for the benefit but the amount paid. However, this would not mean that they qualified financially for advice and assistance.

To summarise: receiving a passported benefit does not make an applicant eligible on capital.

Forms of capital and documentary evidence required

A guide to items deemed to form Capital and the documentary evidence required

For capital, you should ask to see:

  • for bank deposits or savings accounts, a statement or passbook
  • for shares or other savings or investments, any available certificates or statements.

You should not be satisfied by a bank statement alone. You should specifically ask whether the applicant has other forms of capital, such as savings accounts or investments, and if they do you should see evidence of those.

Many applicants may no longer have paper bank statements but may instead have on-line banking facilities or a banking app. In such cases you should still view the statements but we accept that there may be no paper copy for you to retain. If the verification you have undertaken has been by way of viewing a balance and transactions on-line or via an app you should note this on the application.

Capital is not limited just to money held in a bank or building society account. It includes items such as:

  • the amount that could be borrowed against all land and buildings the client or their partner own, other than the client’s main home, including interests in timeshares
  • money in a bank, building society, post office, credit union, premium bonds, national savings certificates etc.
  • investments, stocks and shares
  • money that can be borrowed against insurance policies
  • the value of other non-essential possessions, such as a boat, a caravan, second car, jewellery (but not wedding or engagement rings), antiques or items bought for investment
  • money owed to the client or their partner
  • money due from the will of someone who has died
  • money due from a trust fund
  • money that can be borrowed against business assets
  • redundancy payments.

We accept that if a client says they do not have any of these, it is difficult for you to get evidence they do not. If you can obtain any such evidence, keep a copy on file, but you should, as a minimum, be able to show that you have asked about each of these items. The online advice and assistance mandate AA/LAO/CIV and form AA/FIN/CIV includes a declaration that you may find helpful for this; you should get the client to review and sign this and retain it on your file.

 

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