The government is considering scrapping the Public Trust Office and handing some of its work to accountants and solicitors. Jane Kennedy, the junior minister responsible for the Lord Chancellor's Department, announced publication of a report proposing most other organisations in the voluntary, private and public sectors take over other aspects of the trust office's work. The remaining functions of the office should be split between the Court Service and the Official Solicitor's Office. The report proposed the PTO explore ways in which the Inland Revenue could assist in ensuring the submission of private receivers' accounts within weeks of becoming due instead of months. The Court of Protection would review cases, with a power to replace receivers, and accountants and solicitors would take over cases where the PTO acts as the receiver. Kennedy said lord chancellor Lord Irvine had welcomed the report and 'agrees that radical change is required'. He is to 'explore the review's recommendations in a programme of change for the PTO' and 'will want to be satisfied that reform does not entail placing a greater financial burden on some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society'. Decisions will be announced in February and are to be aimed at ensuring all the interests of PTO clients are protected. The Treasury has accepted the main criticisms of the PAC calling for 'a fundamental programme of change'.
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