Treasury select sub-committee members have launched a stinging attack on the Money Advice Service, accusing it of “scrambling around” for a purpose to justify its budget and being an organisation which has “lost its direction”.
During the committee’s first evidence session into its inquiry into the service today, Labour MP Mudie attacked MAS for lacking a purpose at a time when Government policies are about to have a “horrifying” effect on people’s finances.
After Consumer Credit Counselling Service head of external affairs Delroy Corinaldi said the MAS has made “public noises” about not wanting to be provider or a regulator of services, Mudie questioned what its role actually is.
He said: “That sounds very worrying. If they do not want to be a signpost, or this that or the other, does anyone know what their agreed role actually is? It has been set up, with this money and it seems to me they are scrambling around to find a role at a very sensitive time.
“All I pick up from the written evidence is the damage they might do from looking for a role instead of just being a signpost and working to fill in gaps.”
Conservative sub-committee member Mark Garnier said: “It is an organisation that has lost its direction, no-one knows what the point of it is.”
Nearly everyone giving evidence to the committee today complained that engagement with the service had been poor in the past but had improved recently.
Mudie suggested this improvement had been triggered by the MPs’ inquiry into the service.
Moneysavingexpert.com founder Martin Lewis agreed. He said: “Things have got better because of this inquiry. They know people like me were going to come here and give them a good kicking.”
Asked by Garnier how effective MAS has been in consulting, Association of British Insurers director general Otto Thoresen said: ““It was non-existent for a long time but it is engaging now and I am sure this inquiry is a part of it.”