The Money Advice Service plans to keep its budget flat next year, but admits it will incur costs as it prepares to merge with the two other main public guidance bodies in 2018.
MAS is eyeing a total budget of £75m for 2017/18, with £3m of savings made primarily through cuts to “offline customer engagement services” ploughed back into an increased debt advice budget.
MAS’ retirement adviser directory, which signposts consumers to regulated advisers, does not feature in the business plan, however.
Ahead of its merger with The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise, MAS says it will incur costs, but has not been able to budget for these yet.
MAS’ business plan reads: “We recognise that there may be some transitional activities, and therefore costs, required during the financial year 2017/18 in preparation for the proposed single financial guidance body. When the transition timetable and process are set out in more detail we will be able to quantify these impacts in 2017/18. Our current assumption is that we will be able to meet any such 2017/18 costs from reserves.”
MAS adds that it welcomes the Government’s change of plans in opting to create one public guidance body as opposed to splitting out the functions of TPAS and Pension Wise into a new pension guidance body as first proposed.
The MAS business plan reads: “We also advocated this model, as we know from experience that people’s money issues do not fall neatly into discrete categories, so we welcome the Government’s proposals for the future direction of financial guidance.
“Almost everyone agrees on the scale of the challenge and the need for a public body to be involved in addressing it. But the fact that gaps exist has not settled how they should be filled. These announcements therefore reflect a restless debate about the optimal way for a money guidance body to help consumers.”
However, MAS says that the “needless duplication of guidance should be avoided”.
MAS will soon announce a successor for outgoing chief executive Caroline Rookes, who announced her retirement in November.