The UK’s leading financial capability charity has today welcomed the publication of the independent review of the Money Advice Service (MAS), but warns that careful consideration is needed of the Service’s future function.
The review calls for MAS to scale down its marketing and website spend, which we believe is right. But we are concerned that the report envisages a pared-down consumer education arm that still will not reach millions of people with the lowest levels of engagement with their money. It is also largely silent on questions around ongoing funding for the sector.
Michelle Highman, Chief Executive of The Money Charity, said:
“The Farnish review has got the diagnosis largely correct. Although we have no issue in principle with MAS delivering generic, impartial advice, over the last several years this – and the development and marketing of MAS’s website – has been done to the exclusion of almost any other function.
“But while pleased that this has been recognised, we’re concerned that what the review has recommended as a replacement does not amount to a coherent whole, and maintains some of the issues seen in MAS’ current work.
“A new financial guidance helpline will not reach people who have no confidence in dealing with money, and will inevitably focus on choosing products – not changing attitudes.
And seedcorn funding to fill gaps in provision will not guarantee the continuation of existing provision, raising the prospect of MAS engaging in a never-ending gap-filling exercise, with all the disruption and uncertainty that will create.
“Rather than cutting MAS’s money advice budget, that money should be reallocated from its website and marketing to supporting delivery of financial education programmes that make a difference across people’s lives, from school right through to retirement.”
Read our submission to the review here.