Posted: Friday, 8 September 2023 @ 13:10
Financial abuse is a growing concern, but it's not always
perpetrated by strangers. Contrary to popular belief, a significant portion of
financial abuse occurs within families. This blog sheds light on this often
overlooked issue and discusses the need for awareness and action.
A report for Help the Aged in 2008 revealed that a
staggering 70% of financial abuse against older people is committed by family
members, with an estimated 60 to 80% of these crimes happening within the
victim's own home. Moreover, approximately 50% of financial abuse cases in the
UK are perpetrated by adult children of the victim.
The demographic shift towards an aging population is likely
to increase the prevalence of family-related financial abuse. As individuals
live longer, managing property and complex financial resources becomes more
challenging, creating opportunities for exploitation.
The independent Financial Vulnerability Taskforce has taken
a crucial step in addressing this issue. Their report aims to raise awareness
and spark discussion about financial abuse within families, often referred to
as "the elephant in the room." It is a timely response as we strive
to rebuild our society and combat the rise in fraud and financial scams,
exacerbated by the recent pandemic.
To combat this issue effectively, we must first understand
its scale and nature. This calls for extensive research to shed light on the
motivations behind family-based financial abuse. Is it driven by a desire to
evade care home fees or inheritance tax, or do relatives believe the money is
rightfully theirs? The answers to these questions remain largely unknown but
are essential for developing effective prevention and response strategies.
The consequences of ignoring this issue are grave. Victims
suffer financial losses, and the burden often falls on taxpayers as care fee
debts accumulate. The problem extends beyond local authorities, affecting
various agencies and society as a whole.
Similar to the evolution in our understanding of child
abuse, which shifted from assuming perpetrators were strangers to recognizing
that many abusers are known to the victim, we must challenge assumptions about
financial abuse. It's not just external criminals; it's happening within
In Norfolk County Council, the establishment of a Financial
Abuse and Safeguarding Officer (FASO) has proved successful in addressing
financial abuse within families. This role acts as a point of contact, assists
in investigations, and collaborates with various agencies to safeguard
Engaging Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs) play a vital role in responding to adult safeguarding
issues, including financial abuse. Engaging SABs on the matter of theft and
fraud within families is crucial to raise awareness and stimulate collective
Financial abuse within families is a pressing issue with far-reaching
consequences. We need research, training, and awareness campaigns to combat
this hidden crisis effectively. It's a public health concern that affects
psychological well-being, adds to healthcare costs, and burdens social care and
law enforcement agencies. As we unite to address this issue, we can begin to
tackle the "elephant in the room" and protect our loved ones from