The Money Advice Service (MAS) has launched its draft business plan for 2017/18 for consultation.
The document reveals that the Service has five key aims for the financial year:
Delivering through others. The MAS will continue to assist with the development of a Financial Capability Strategy for the UK – a co-ordinated effort with national and devolved government aimed at improving people’s ability to manage money and to handle periods of financial difficulty.
Earlier and wider access to debt advice. Although the overall MAS budget will remain unchanged, its debt advice expenditure will increase, and it aims to fund an additional 443,000 debt advice sessions for consumers, an increase of 10% on the current financial year. It will continue to work with other organisations to develop a co-ordinated Debt Advice Strategy. It aims to have 75% of debt advice users, across the entire debt advice sector, receiving advice according to the template laid down by the MAS Standard Financial Statement.
More people budgeting and saving. The Service is working towards a comprehensive commissioning plan to assist people in the ‘squeezed’ and ‘struggling’ segments of society to budget and save.
Improving access to guidance and advice. The MAS intends that as many as 3.7 million people from the ‘squeezed’ and ‘struggling’ segments of society will use its services in 2017/18. As the Service no longer offers a face-to-face service, it will help boost the skills of money guidance practitioners in voluntary and other organisations.
Widening and improving financial education. The MAS intends to survey and map children’s financial capability needs across the UK. It will develop a commissioning plan explaining how it will fund financial education for children, both in schools and at home.
The consultation ends on February 6.
Caroline Rookes, Chief Executive of MAS, said:
“We have set out a clear and ambitious plan for the coming year which builds on last year’s progress. There is a clear focus on demonstrating how we plan to prioritise and deliver efficiently and at best value for the resources entrusted to us. Our combination of insight, access and a strong network puts us in a strong position to turn these priorities into action, helping more people than ever, especially those who are “squeezed” or struggling” to get by.
“The plan includes a clear commitment to build on the Money Advice Service’s work to signpost to others, unlocking and co-ordinating the wealth of expertise provided by the sector. This will involve building deeper relationships with the financial services sector and wider communities.
“We have seen first-hand the impact that bringing organisations together to work towards a common goal can have. Over 300 organisations across the UK supported the first ever Financial Capability Week, raising awareness of key issues and working together to discuss and overcome challenges. Bringing organisations together, understanding the financial challenges and joining the dots so that people receive consistent and relevant guidance is vital if we are to see a real change in financial behaviours in the future.”
The Government has announced that it will launch a new financial guidance body to replace MAS, Pension Wise and The Pensions Advisory Service, but this new organisation will not be ready to start its duties before the second half of 2018, at the earliest. This means that advisory firms and other authorised firms will need to continue to pay levies to fund the MAS, however unpalatable this idea might be. The Service’s budget for 2017/18 will be £75 million, the same as for 2016/17.
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