Abolition of Money Advice Service (MAS) will hit millions of consumers says Panel

 

In its response(1) to the Government’s consultation on public financial guidance(2) the Financial Services Consumer Panel has raised concerns that the abolition of MAS could leave consumers without a source of impartial financial guidance, and slow down progress on the UK’s financial capability strategy.

 

More than 8.4 million people contacted MAS in 2014/2015 (3), nearly double the previous year and the result of years of brand awareness building. A majority were working-age, on incomes of £10,000 to £35,000 per year (4). They searched for information about everyday personal finance issues like mortgages, budgeting and savings and pensions.

 

Sue Lewis, Chair of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, said:

 

“The government has not explained how abolishing the MAS brand will improve consumer outcomes, nor said why it has rejected less disruptive options, such as strengthening MAS’s governance. MAS has been widely criticised in the past for its marketing spend, but the brand is now well known, and trusted. Losing it will leave millions of consumers unable to find impartial guidance, and the money spent on building the brand will have been wasted.

 

The government appears to expect the MAS successor body to take responsibility for improving financial capability, but without saying where leadership for the UK strategy should lie, or what the governance arrangements should be. There are real risks for consumers in these proposals and we hope the government will consider the evidence carefully, including experience from overseas, before taking hasty and damaging action”.

 

ENDS

 

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

 

Maria João Paixão (Consumer Panel):                                 020 7066 7716

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

 

1     The Consumer Panel is a statutory body under the Financial Services Act 2012.  It was initially established by the Financial Services Authority in December 1998.

2     The Panel advises the FCA on the interests and concerns of consumers.  The Panel is independent. Its views are its own and do not represent those of the FCA.

3     The Panel’s membership is drawn from a broad range of backgrounds with expertise including market research, law, financial services industry, financial inclusion, European Regulation, financial regulation, consumer advice, campaigning, communications, compliance and later-life issues. 

4     The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated by the FCA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers of activities outside but related to the FCA's remit. More information about the Panel's work is available on its website: www.fs-cp.org.uk or via its LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

 

Sue Lewis (Chair)

Dominic Lindley

Caroline Barr

Pamela Meadows

Teresa Fritz

Faith Reynolds

Liz Barclay

Jeff Salway

Mark Chidley

Doug Taylor

Sharon Collard

Kitty Ussher

Jennifer Genevieve

 

 

 

Thursday, 9 June 2016