MAS posts £786k loss as chief exec pay hits £180k

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The Money Advice Service has reported a loss of £786,000 for the year 2014/15 and handed chief executive Caroline Rookes a £20,000 pay rise.

It marks the first time MAS has made a loss since it was launched in 2010. In that time, levy income has more than doubled from an original take of £32m to £80.6m

In 2013/14 MAS underspent by £805,000, which was subtracted from the total  levied in 2014/15.

It then reached an agreement with the FCA and the Treasury to overspend in 2014/15, with funds taken from accumulated reserves.

However, both Rookes and corporate services director Lesley Robinson have been awarded pay rises.

Rookes saw her total pay increase from £163,000 in 2013/14 to £180,000 in 2015/16, while Robinson took home £204,000, up from £187,000 in 2013/14.

All MAS executives are eligible for discretionary performance-related bonuses, set by the advice body at 15 per cent for 2014/15.

MAS levy income rose from £78.8m in 2013/14 to £80.6m, and advisers will see their contributions to the service further increase 16 per cent over the coming year, with the sector’s levy rising from £3.6m to £4.2m.

Levy income for 2014/15 predominately went to the money advice unit, which took in £42.6m, while £38m went to the debt advice business.

However, the money advice unit recorded a loss of £1.4m, while the debt advice business recorded a profit of £1.5m.

The loss was partly driven by increased demand for services, with MAS reporting a surge of almost 90 per cent on numbers of people contacting the service over 2014/15, reaching 8.4m.

MAS spent £45.5m on service delivery, up from £40.9m in 2013/14.

Its money advice unit used the funds for 140,890 sessions of telephone, e-mail and webchat support up from 107,644 in 2013/14, and 95,084 face-to-face sessions, down from 102,720 last year.

The sum also funded 219,700 debt advice sessions in England and Wales at a cost of £29.4m, this represents a sharp increase in 2013/14’s equivalent of 163,000 sessions at a cost of £27.8m.

MAS is currently constructing its response to an independent review which recommended dramatic reductions in its money advice programme.