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Panel wants utilities to pay

The Financial Services Practitioner Panel says utility providers should contribute to the Money Advice Service’s budget.

During an evidence session at the Treasury select sub-committee’s inquiry into the MAS last week, panel chair Joe Garner said rising utility prices are likely to have an impact on people’s finances in the short-term and energy firms could provide some funding.

Garner said: “Earlier we discussed the risk of rising interest rates leading to stress for customers. I think the more likely short-term risk is rising energy, fuel and utility prices. Whilst it is absolutely appropriate for the financial services sector to be funding the MAS, there are other sectors that also have responsibilities in this area and maybe they should also be contributing.”

Financial Services Consumer Panel chair Adam Philips told MPs that, in future, MAS users could be asked to pay a fee for its services.

Philips said he is “disinclined” to support a fee structure in light of questions raised by the RDR over how willing people are to pay for advice, but he added: “It may well be as people see the benefits of it, it may be they are willing to pay for more and better advice.”

The MAS budget for 2012/13 is £80.8m. The £46.3m it will spend on money advice is funded by the financial services industry while the £34.5m it will spend on debt advice is funded by lenders.

Garner claimed many in the industry are happy to fund the MAS as long as they can see there is value for money.

He said: “I do not think there is an issue over the price tag, there is an issue over value for money for the investment.”



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