The Money Advice Service will no longer run TV advertising campaigns, says chief executive Caroline Rookes as the organisation slashes its marketing budget by a third.
The MAS’s 2015/16 business plan, published today, reveals its marketing spend for “money advice” services has been cut from £13.2m in 2014/15 to £8.8m.
The FCA confirmed last week that MAS’s total budget for money advice services for 2015/16 has been cut by 21 per cent to £34.1m. Its budget for debt advice services will increase by 36 per cent to £47m, leaving its total budget unchanged at £81.1m.
Speaking to Money Marketing, Rookes says: “We have reduced our marketing spend because we want to be as efficient as we can. We have found that as we have increased our reach, people are getting to know us so we don’t need to spend as much on marketing.
“Also, the political reality is that we have come under criticism for our marketing budget.”
Earlier this month, a Treasury-commissioned review of the MAS carried out by Christine Farnish recommended it cut its money advice budget in half and radically overhaul its structure.
Asked whether the MAS would continue to run TV and radio marketing campaigns, Rookes says: “You are unlikely to see TV advertising from us. We may continue with radio, but what we are trying to do is communicate specific messages rather than just saying ‘we are here’.”
The MAS will also reduce its spend on printed guides from £1.1m in 2014/15 to £350,000.
But its budget for corporate communications and public relations will increase from £887,000 to £945,000.
The MAS says it will reduce the scope of, or stop developing, services which are duplicated by other organisations. The Farnish review highlighted a number of areas where the MAS is duplicating services provided elsewhere.
The MAS says: “We aim to complement and add to the services and resources provided by others. In order to ensure we focus our own efforts and resources on areas where we can add the most value, we will be much more active in referring our customers to alternative sources, such as insurance comparison websites.”
Rookes adds: “As part of the follow up work to the review, we will be looking at what those areas are. One example would be comparison tables: we will keep our annuity table because no-one else has produced something like it, but mortgage tables may be an area we pull back from.
“We may refer people to other providers of money and budgeting advice. We will need to ensure the advice provided by those organisations is impartial and of sufficient quality for us to do so.”
The MAS also says it plans to play a greater role in financial education for children, another recommendation of the Farnish review.
It says it will publish a plan by summer setting out how it plans to take a “leadership role” in financial education.
Rookes says: “We have work to do to identify exactly what our role should be and what we can afford.”