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MAS spent over £1m on office refurb and staff away days

The Money Advice Service spent over £1m in 2013/14 on a new office and staff away days, Money Marketing can reveal.

In 2013/14, the MAS’s total budget was £78.2m, compared with £77.5m for 2014/15. 

Following a request from Money Marketing, the MAS revealed the cost of refurbishing its Hatton Garden offices in London in March was £841,378. The service’s “learning and development programme”, which includes a series of staff away days, cost £250,540, bringing the total cost of the office move and away days to £1,091,918.

A MAS spokeswoman says: “The lease was due to expire in March  and it was more cost-efficient to remain in the current properties with a new 10-year lease and a refurbishment than to move to alternative locations.”

The MAS runs an annual away day for all staff as well as “regular, focused” team-level away days to “promote collaborative working” and “leadership team development days” to “ensure we are highly effective as business leaders and people managers”.

The spokeswoman adds: “We are an organisation that believes in investing in its staff.”

The information requests were made after MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes told Money Marketing in an interview last month that despite not coming under the Freedom of Information Act, the service “will try to be as open as we can and I cannot think of many circumstances where we wouldn’t share what we are doing”.

Money Marketing also requested information on the amounts paid in bonuses and for foreign trips, and further details on the costs of office leases and away day venues – but the MAS refused to disclose them.

The MAS says some of the information requested is commercially sensitive but details that can be disclosed will be published shortly in its annual review.

Gibson Financial Planning IFA David Gibson says: “It is galling that an organisation we pay for is spending this sort of money on these things and if the MAS was really committed to transparency, it could ask to be subject to FoI requests.”

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Comments

There are 20 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Blood sucking leeches

  2. They are taking the p*ss!

  3. Such shameful extravagance really should precipitate P45s all round. Does the MAS really need to be located in Central London? Noticeably most larger Adviser firms operate their main administrative functions from areas where they can benefit from a lower cost base.

    Isn’t it time for MAS to start practising some more prudent financial management?

  4. Shame on you MAS – you’re wasting OUR money !!!
    (and you’re wasting everyone’s time !)

  5. The spokeswoman adds: “We are an organisation that believes in investing in its staff.” Of course you do …. it’s not your money.
    (and another thing — every time I see those feeble adverts that we have to pay for, and I hear “set up by Government”, I wonder how they get away with it. It’s such a deliberately misleading weasel-words statement.)

  6. I wish I had £1mill to refurbish my office and give staff awaydays. Of course I cannot as I have to earn my money to give to the MAS who seem to spend it willy nilly. This institution is a disgrace but then again we have seen the FSA using our money to give directors golf weekends so who can blame them What is good for the goose is good for the gander

  7. I expect various local authorities, charities and the Arts Council wil be delighted to know that they are saving money so it can be spent on MAS offices. Perhaps someone should ask them if they think its “the right thing to do”.

  8. Oh dear,

    Here is another quango type sham paid for by hard working people directly from their pockets – It is basically a tax on IFA’s – squandering our hard earned funds on expensive central London offices and pointless away days where portly blokes climb greasy poles and roll about in mud with young ladies at our expense – not to mention the no doubt sumptious hotel rooms and gala dinners – I am truly sick of being taken advantage of – but you know what? There is absolutely F all we can do about it – MAS (Mansions And Supercars) like the FCA and the FSA before them are accountable to nobody. Westminster won’t care because it’s not coming from taxpayers directly and just watch next year the levvy for this pointless organisation will rise – the away days will have gone down so well with staff they will want MORE and maybe a few fact finding trips to Barbados and Disney World Florida thrown in…Oops just given them more ideas….

  9. Andrew Pritchard 26th June 2014 at 1:41 pm

    It is a re-occurring theme, government organisations that do not make their own money are happy to spend someone else’s. What makes it worse, that despite all of the understandable outrage, there is nobody listening.

    Who holds these people to account?

  10. how can the MAS have “commercially sensitive” information when they have no competitors and are funded by us mugs?

  11. Its time this was sorted out.

  12. I’m just waiting for the official excuses- better than Saturday Night at the Apollo for a good laugh.

    This is how Ms Rookes earns her eye watering salary – not by giving advice but by making excuses for squandering OTM.

    Giss a job at a Quango someone – please.

  13. Julian Stevens 26th June 2014 at 2:18 pm

    They’ve obviously taken a leaf out of the FSA’s book ~ it’s all just OPM and we’re not accountable to anyone (except for the occasional awkward question from a few pesky MP’s), so what do we care?

    Like most of what the FCA does, an expenditure as significant as this should be subject to third party scrutiny and approval ~ shouldn’t it?.

    Unfortunately, APFA’s approach to the issue is just to convene ever more meetings.

  14. Just one thought; these “away days” (as MM has labelled them) for learning and development why (like the FCA) are they not conducted in house instead of some swish hotel ?

    Is the not the FCA coming down hard on the inducements (away days for learning and development) us IFA’s get ? yet they waste our / our clients money with wonton abandon ?

    And why do the MAS offices need to be in London ?

    Its easy to spend money; but a lot easier (and I suspect more fun) to spend other peoples money

  15. “The lease was due to expire in March and it was more cost-efficient to remain in the current properties with a new 10-year lease and a refurbishment than to move to alternative locations.”

    Wouldn’t it have been even cheaper to just extend the lease and not spend over £800k renovating someone else’s property?

  16. Hector's House 26th June 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Parasites!

  17. If you can’t beat them, https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/static/jobs

    I know where I’ll be applying to work next- I love having days out to fill my time!

  18. Such shameful extravagance really should precipitate P45s all round. Does the MAS really need to be located in Central London? Noticeably most larger Adviser firms operate their main administrative functions from areas where they can benefit from a lower cost base.

    Isn’t it time for MAS to start practising some more prudent financial management?

  19. Staff need training and we are not advised what the away days were?

    Refurbishing costs may be high, but again we do not know what work was undertaken.

    I agree they do not have any “commercially Sensitive”, information.

    The main issue for all advisers and any financial services company is that we are paying the costs of MAS. It has been heavy advertised (with a budget most advisers would give their left arm for) and achieved very little.

    The main issue being if it was a commercial enterprise we all know it would have failed.

  20. Dick Sprinkler 28th June 2014 at 8:48 am

    This really has got to stop its gone way beyond the joke now – Bonfire of the Quango’s ALL Quangos cannot start soon enough, will anyone miss them much less what they purport to do ? I very much doubt it.

    Just imagine for one moment what sort of protection would be afforded to the great unwashed in all walks of life (not just Financial Services) if we didn’t spend on quango’s – now that really is ‘better consumer outcomes’

    Volunteers to set light to the bonfire ? Get in line !!!

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