The Queen’s speech may have been a short, sharp affair compared to previous years, but it did contain plans by the government to overhaul the UK’s financial guidance services.
This major restructure was in response to an independent review carried out in 2015 by Christine Farnish, the former chief executive of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.
Farnish said the MAS needed to avoid duplicating services. In December of last year the government stated that MAS should become a single financial guidance body – its responsibilities would cover money, debt, and pensions guidance and would ultimately deliver better value for money.
Charles Counsell, chief executive of the MAS, said, “We welcome the government’s announcement of the creation of the new single financial guidance body.
“This will give a more joined up offering to customers across debt advice, pensions advice and broader money guidance.
“We need to make sure people are able to access high quality help with money issues, and help prevent people getting into financial difficulties in the first place.
“Critically, the new body will also carry on the important work underway through the Financial Capability Strategy to improve people’s ability to manage their money effectively.
“Most importantly it is excellent news for the millions who will get real, practical, free and impartial help.”
Future of financial guidance: the expert view
Peter Glancy, head of industry development at Scottish Widows, said: “Scottish Widows welcomes the creation of the new public financial guidance body.
“This is a major step in simplifying money management from the perspective of the public, where the full spectrum of support will soon be found in one place.
“The new body will also carry a responsibility for promoting financial literacy more broadly. Employers, educational bodies and financial services companies all have skills and resources which can contribute to making a real difference.
“However, it’s important that efforts are co-ordinated and aligned to have maximum impact and this body could galvanise the resources of the nation.
“We believe there are a number of commonly held and damaging misperceptions in relation to pensions, for example, where a ‘myth busting’ campaign championed by the new body could raise public awareness of the new body, whilst delivering some quick wins.
“Scottish Widows also believes that this new body could be the ideal home for the proposed Pensions Dashboard, providing a public service dashboard, free at the point of use, and paid for through the levy which will be raised against the industry.”