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Citizens Advice chief slams MAS marketing spend

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy has attacked the Money Advice Service’s marketing budget and called for the money to be spent funding 300 “front line” debt advisers.

The MAS’ 2014/15 business plan says it intends to spend £13.2m on campaigns and digital marketing “to encourage people to take action”.

Giving evidence to the Treasury select committee this afternoon, Guy said: “The promotional activity I have seen has been around raising awareness around finances and the issues around financing and their own website.

“The budget has come down as a result of pressure, but if I put that in context we could put 300 advisers on the street and be seeing a hell of a lot of people.”

Last December a TSC report gave the MAS a “stay of execution” but called for an independent inquiry to look at the services future.

Asked by Conservative MP Jesse Norman whether the MAS has improved since then, Guy said there had been “quite a shift” but that she and MAS still “agree to differ” on certain things.

She said: “We do not think they need to promote a brand at all – we will always think there is too much spent on that. They are spending less but we think it should go to the front line.

“We also disagree on a point of principle which is the bringing together of money and debt advice and financial capability work.”

MAS’ total budget for this year is £81.1m. It will spend £43m of this providing money advice, with 94 per cent of the remaining £38.1m going to organisations like Citizens Advice to provide debt advice.


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There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Hang on!!

    MAS is getting an absolute kicking from the TSC (and others) and the Consumer Panel of the FCA is calling on MAS to get a wider remit

    Is there absolutely no joined up thinking going on in the regulatory world?

  2. It must be heartbreaking for CAB to see all this money squandered, when they are fighting for every penny they need for a service that actually achieves something positive.

    MAS should be closed immediately.

  3. Totally agree Nick!

  4. Rt Hon Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling 3rd September 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Here speaks a man enjoying a final salary pension paid largely by HMG and local government. Go into the market place and sell your services chum. And see how far you get. No? Well keep shtumm then!

  5. NIck

    Have you ever engaged directly with the FCA Consumer panel? I did a few years back and was in one of their full meetings. I thought I’d landed in a meeting of the Socialist Workers Party. (An oxymoron if ever there was one!)

    As you may know the panel is made up of 18 members of which a few can be considered commercially aware and on this planet. However the majority is made up of what I term the bleeding hearts. There are currently 2 career researchers, 3 Civil Servants, 4 Journalists and 5 Academics; all in my experience with the commercial nous of a tapeworm. So what do you expect?

    Apart from this rag tag of people who in the main expect us to work for free (and remember one of the members is the infamous Debbie Harrison whose diligence and research gave Key Data a clean bill of health and a reasonably good review) and their so called expertise in our arena is in my view very suspect.

    No wonder when practically everyone of any note thinks the MAS is a waste of space these numpties want to increase their remit. It rather confirms my view of them, don’t you think?

  6. It’s like Nick Cleggs’ school dinners — it’s easy to come up with ways of spending other peoples’ money but it proves impossible to stop the spending once it has started. MAS needs to be culled now, rather than in five years time. What happened to the “Bonfire of the Quangos” anyway ? They seem to keep on spreading, don’t they ?

  7. As Harry K stated, Dr Harrison was appointed to the FSCP AFTER her Keydata glowing report. I pointed out to Sue Lewis chair of the FSCP Dr Harrisons position on the panel was untenable as if as they said :any comptent adviser should have known….:, well be definition so should Dr Harrison.
    Jobs for the boys and girls.

  8. And, can you ask the CAB chap to have a word with the FSCS too, about their pointless marketing?

    Having just paid my levy, it does grate when I continually hear their radio adverts telling me how they are their to protect people – spend the money on what its there for – to protect people.

  9. And so we have the other article to run along side of this, FCA and expense’s !!

    Parasites the lot of them MAS, FCA, FOS and the FSCS

    Definition of parasite -: where one species benefits at the expense of the other the “host” (me and my clients) unlike a predator they will not kill the host but make them suffer in every way imaginable.

  10. The reason the government set up the MAS is to privatise the funding of much of what the CAB does. As a result, the CAB is experiencing a relentless creeping starvation of funding from central government. It’s completely understandable that it [the CAB] should feel aggrieved about the MAS announcing its plans to blow £13.4m on raising public awareness of its existence when the CAB is an organisation of which the public is already very well aware. But that’s politics for you.

  11. Couldn’t agree more with the above comments – with good planning & practices MAS and FSCS would have a ready built advertising “sales” force – the Financial Services industry. All they need are sensible policies, useful websites and consumer information, and little leaflets which all financial institutions are required to regularly give out to clients / cutomers to increase awareness.

    As for the case that some people can’t / don’t / won’t read these things, my view is rather like percentages, if you don’t know that 1% is one in every hundred, then get off your derrierre and learn – these things are hardly rocket science.

  12. Following on my previous post;
    The regulator is really concerned that a substantial number of folk can’t understand percentages.
    So much so we all have to ensure paperwork gives worked examples of everything.
    Is there anything on the MAS site that might help folk understand?
    Google “explain percentages” – comes up with a few great, simple sites in very clear, basic language.
    Wouldn’t it make sense if FCA is concerned the public don’t understand something, that MAS have great clear explanaitions, to which both FCA and us can direct folk….wouldn’t we all be promoting this wonderful source of really helpful info to all……
    Which part of utopia am I dreaming of……

  13. @ Julian

    Quite so:
    Politics – where misanthropes gather to indulge in narcissism, self- aggrandisement and pecuniary advantage.

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