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.”