Mas chief hits back at claims service was waste of time

Mas chief hits back at claims service was waste of time

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service has defended her organisation saying it was not a waste of time and money, despite the government’s decision to scrap it.

One of the outcomes from this year’s Budget were plans to scrap the organisation, which describes itself as a “free and impartial advice service”, in favour of merging the functions of The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

The Money Advice Service has come under fire for years for how much it cost to create, run and how many people it was actually helping.

Article continues after advert

As long ago as 2012 a committee of MPs raised concern at the use of an industry levy to fund the Money Advice Service.

The Business Innovation and Skills Committee stated given the various other organisation financial services firm have to fund a levy on the industry that would raise £27m a year to fund the face-to-face advice could be an imposition too far.

MPs also raised ‘concern’ about then Mas chief executive Tony Hobman’s salary, questioning whether his remuneration, including benefits, of about £350,000 was “appropriate for a relatively small organisation”.

Despite the fact the plug has now been pulled on the government’s advice service experiment, leading to yet another chorus of cries about how it was a waste of time and money, Ms Rookes said it was “absolutely not the case” that resources were pointlessly exhausted.

In an interview with FTAdviser, she said that the service had dealt with 50 million unique web visits, and had helped a lot of people.

Ms Rookes added the service had also developed a lot of resources and tools like the retirement adviser directory and these tools would be saved and still used in the future.

She said: “Apart from all the people who have come to us and the tools there are people who have been helped indirectly through partnerships.”

Yesterday, it was announced that the Money Advice Service has brought an end to all of its marketing and brand building, according to its latest business plan, as it role in financial services education is significantly scaled back following intervention by the government.

When asked about what the problems at Mas were attributable to, Ms Rookes said that one difficulty was the complexity of behavioural change.

She said: “Countries right across the world are grappling with this - to get people to think more long term about money and plan to save.

“We can certainly improve on the situation but it is a very long term challenge.”