Increase in probate fees
The proposed increase in probate fees has been delayed due to a backlog in the commons caused by Brexit.
Online Probate Service
Probate is the process of obtaining the right to administer someone’s estate, after they pass away. Earlier this year the HM Courts & Tribunals (HMCTS) rolled out its online probate application service to make the process of applying for probate quicker and easier. The service enables people to apply, pay and swear a statement of truth online but some documents, such as the will and death certificate still need to be physically submitted. Currently the online application service is only available when a will has been left. Eventually it will be expanded to include people who died without a will.
However, applicants are facing delays of up to 12 weeks as the probate system has become overloaded. A backlog has been caused by a rush to apply for probate ahead of a rise in fees and staff struggling with the IT system.
Possible ideas to resolve the lack of banks on the high street
The Treasury Select Committee recognises the reducing number of bank branches on the high street and acknowledges that there are people who prefer to use a branch than online. Also, in light of recent IT failures, banks should not rely entirely on their online and mobile services. The Committee has suggested the idea of local banking hubs or different banks taking it in turns to use the same office on different days.
Currently banks encourage customers towards Post Office branches for banking when there is no local bank but they only offer basic services e.g. take out and deposit money and check balance – the same as a cash machine. The Post Office branch, for example, cannot set up direct debits. Also, the Post Office makes a loss from providing limited banking services and the Committee feels the taxpayer should not be subsidising the banks.
Maximum benefits sanction penalty reduced
Sanctions can be placed on benefit claimants who do not meet particular conditions e.g. failure to show efforts to find work or attend job centre meetings. The maximum sanction period for benefit claimants is to be reduced to six months. A report last year by the Work and Pensions Committee found single parents, care leavers and people with disabilities and health conditions were “disproportionately vulnerable” to and affected by sanctions. Children were particularly at risk of being affected if their parents’ benefits were stopped.