The New MAS?
The government has announced that it plans to create a new guidance service to provide advice on pensions, managing debts and other money issues. While it thinks a single advisory body will be more efficient, as yet it has no name for it and there is no timetable for its creation, nor do we know how the new service will actually work.
It will replace the Money Advice Service (MAS), which was set up in 2010 and the abolition of which was announced in the Budget in March.
The role of MAS, which has various money-management tools available on its website, was to help people who face problem debt to find the help they need, to help consumers understand financial services and to make better decisions. However, inquiries by the Commons Treasury Select Committee and National Audit Office raised questions about the value for money, the effectiveness of its consumer finance education role, for duplicating work already provided in the private and charitable sectors and for failing to reach those who needed its help the most.
The new organisation will also take on the roles of the Pensions Advisory Service, which offers free and impartial pensions guidance, and Pension Wise, which was established alongside the retirement freedoms introduced in 2015 and aims to help people approaching retirement decide what to do with their money.
While announcing that, like the MAS, the service will be paid for by a levy on financial services companies, Pensions minister Richard Harrington said: "A single guidance body will be more efficient and will help consumers make the right financial decisions. We are committed to ensuring people can access the best free and impartial financial guidance possible."