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Treasury axes MAS from delivering pensions guidance

The Treasury has axed the Money Advice Service from delivering pensions guidance sessions to savers when the Budget reforms come into force next year.

The Pensions Advisory Service will deliver non-face to face guidance and Citizens Advice will deliver face-to-face.

The Treasury had lined up the MAS to play a key role but it has been significantly reduced and it will not be delivering frontline guidance.

The MAS will not play a role in delivering the digital service, with online guidance designed by the Government as part of the scheme.

In July, Treasury select committee chair Andrew Tyrie wrote to Chancellor George Osborne raising concern over the MAS’ involvement in delivering the guidance guarantee.

Speaking at a Citizens Advice Bureau in Sutton yesterday, Osborne said: “Giving people the freedom to manage their own pension is the backbone of this Government’s radical pension reforms and key to our long-term economic plan. 

“That’s why I’m delighted that respected and impartial consumer advice organisations – Citizens Advice and The Pensions Advisory Service – will be offering free face-to-face and telephone guidance to people across the country from April, as promised in the Budget.

“These organisations have years of experience dealing with a variety of consumer issues and are well placed to be accessible to everyone who reaches pension age and feels they would benefit from the guidance.”

MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes says: “We are pleased that we are at the heart of the delivery team, working to develop the new guidance service. Our experts are seconded into HM Treasury, playing a key role in helping to build the online part of the service and develop the guidance which will be provided to customers. The Treasury have made it clear how much they value the contribution we are making.

“At the MAS we are developing more extensive help for people aged 55 and over, to supplement the support they will get from the new guidance service. This will include help on budgeting for retirement, guidance on the different options and products available and a new annuities comparison table.

“We’re also developing a new directory to make it easier for people to find a regulated adviser, if they need one.” 

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “As a trusted, independent charity, Citizens Advice is in a unique position to deliver face-to-face pensions guidance. We have 75 years’ experience working at the heart of communities, helping people get to grips with their finances. It’s a natural fit for us to help people understand their pension options and make choices for their future.”

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Comments

There are 21 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Rt Hon Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling 18th October 2014 at 8:05 am

    Citizen’s Advice? Shum Mishtake Shooli?

  2. As Citizens Advice Bureau is a voluntary organisation where are they going to get the people to answer the technical questions? Presumably, like everything else they will have to refer to a Manual.
    I can hear their Volunteers groaning now at the prospect of learning yet more stuff.They do a wonderful job but morale is low because they are overworked already.
    Caroline Rookes missed her vocation – she ought to be a politician the way she tried to sidestep any criticism of the MAS being excluded from the process!

  3. Absolute shambles. CAB provided with more cash to deliver half baked service. They will deliver this from the same centres that open a few hours a day and already have queues out the door. Do they honestly believe this customer group will want to access CAB centres to get in independent guidance? Political nonsense. This is not being designed with the service user in mind

  4. It’s a little ironic that the Government is “giving people the freedom to manage their own pension” and yet most people given the ‘freedom to manage their own debt’ don’t seem to be capable. Just sayin…..

  5. A well deserved slap in the face for MAS. Let us all hope this is just the start.

  6. perhaps that explains why she was at a Labour party fringe meeting insulting advisers as she already knew shed lost the Tories support. So needed to get Labour on her side.
    Voucher system and get regulated advisers to help via CAN offices perhaps? Instead of a cost, perhaps make it that those that do voluntary CAB work get an F pack fee discount instead?

  7. From the BBC website today…………

    “Face-to-face advice will be offered to pensioners at bureaux across the UK, Chancellor George Osborne said.

    The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) will also provide free and impartial advice over the telephone”

    Just about says it all.

  8. “Treasury axes MAS” would have been a much nicer headline!

    Sadly the man on the street trusts CAB much more than anyone in financial services so there is some hope that people will seek advice.

  9. Perhaps George is “concerned” about them (MAS) being ethical, as they are not regulated ?

    I am pleased CAB is getting a bit of recognition I would wager Gillian Guy is as disillusioned about Rookes and MAS as we are

    I love the line Rookes said “The Treasury have made it clear how much they value the contribution we are making” No I think you have ben found out and people realise how little of a contribution you do make !

  10. Pleased to see an accessible service in CAB will provide a front line guidance service. Whether they can cope and how it pans out is another matter, but it makes more sense than MAS.

    My advice/guidance to others would be to contact your local CAB and forge relationships if you want or need this area of work (probably more rough than smooth I know),but come on let’s be positive about this outcome, it is after all, a possible business opportunity!

  11. Give the retirees a voucher £100 for 45 minutes with a qualified adviser. Do the job properly.

  12. Great news…I suspect the writing is already on the wall for MAS if the Tories get back in. MAS would be the obvious choice so that fact that they are shut out means that their life expectancy is low. If MAS had been given this there would be no option to close them.

    CAB are trusted and whilst we would rather that IFA’s got the job, at least CAB may be open to our help and input.

    Let’s hope for a swift end to the MAS fiasco.

  13. What makes me angry is that I and many, many others have been shouting for years that the creation of the MAS was a waste of money (our money!); and that we already had the well respected CAB.

    Abolish the MAS today! Waste no more time or money. If the industry has to pay a levy for this stuff, then let it go to the CAB.

    I’m still anxious for thise working at the CAB regarding their new role as pensions ‘experts’ but I know that they wont overstep the mark and will be keen to refer prople who need advice to a regulated adviser. They do it already.

  14. I think that by the time Mr/Mrs Average Job public have gone through the new pre-retirement maze in wadding through insurers wake up packs, speaking to MAS, queuing for their CAB meeting and it eventually dawning on them that no advice has been offered just more layers of information, they will be only be too glad to find a adviser and pay advice fees to sort our their retirement.

  15. SHOULD THE ADVISORY INDUSTRY TAKE LEGAL ACTION!

    To give personal financial advice on a face-to-face basis on pensions and investments you are meant to be authorised and regulated by the FCA under the Financial Services and Marketing Act 2000 and 2012.

    Now I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit fed up of politicians and regulators using language like face-to-face guidance advice, whilst forcing IFA’s like us to comply with overcomplicated report writing regulations.

    I even had to put up with a representative from Hargreaves Lansdown on this morning’s BBC Breakfast News, talking about the legitimate problem of potential pension fraud and then going on to talk about pension advice and taking advice from a regulatory firm registered with the FCA. The problem is Hargreaves Lansdown DON’T provide financial advice so why ask them for a comment.

    Please can somebody at Money Marketing asked the BBC why they always ask for comment from firms that are not authorised to give advice. I for one would like to understand the logic particularly when you’re trying to promote awareness of where people should be searching for e.g. the FCA register.

    We do have laws in this country and this one seems to be overlooked by every single government body in financial services.

    Who’s going to staff the CAB and are the staff going to be regulated and authorised or even shall we say qualified to give advice.

    DO WE JUST MAKE THIS STUFF UP ON THE BACK OF A FAG PACKET WHEN IT SUITS US?

  16. @ bring it on

    OR !!

    Saying screw this for a game of soldiers and just ticking the box, on their existing providers form to take the annuity with them ?

    Rendering the whole exercise null and void !

  17. Some years ago I was a volunteer for a well known children’s charity offering telephone counselling. In around 2008 the government pumped money into the charity allowing it to fund many more telephone lines and modern new offices throughout the UK. Ads were placed in the press, volunteers by the hundred were recruited throughout the UK and everyone (including those already volunteering) completed an unpaid 10 week 40 hour training course on telephone counselling, receiving a certificate of competence thereafter.

    Over the next year or so there followed investment in new nationally linked telephone and bespoke software and computer systems which required further compulsory training. While there was a paid professional management team in each location who formed relationships with local police forces and social work departments, all of this was voluntary on the part of those doing the actual counselling – the initial 40 hours to train, the regular and compulsory commitment to on-going training in systems (phone and software) upgrades, monthly reviews of performance and so on. A voluntary five hour shift had become a substantial monthly commitment, requiring time off work to accommodate reviews and courses.

    At the time I left this ‘volunteering’ had become akin to a pressure filled second job, albeit unpaid, and was increasingly being done by young people fresh out of uni with degrees in sociology and psychology who saw the position as a step into a job in social work and could afford the considerable time commitment required, rather than the people, usually mothers, with both the considerable related life experience and the training and commitment to help who had done it previously. I remember with humour the comment by one of the trainers during the ‘initial training’ we all undertook that previous experience as a mother was of limited use in dealing with calls, something I certainly did not find to be borne out by experience.

    It will be interesting to see what will be put in place to train up CAB volunteers, and how they will deal with the callers who will need expertise beyond that able to be provided by the newly trained. If the experience I had with the charity is anything to go by people will indeed call the service once its been heavily advertised, but some will have complex and complicated situations difficult to navigate easily and where detailed and technical advice, assistance and intervention is the only option. The local managers of CAB offices may find themselves to be both an introductory training ground for the next generation of financial advisers and a lucrative source of onward recommendations to advisers in their area.

    I wonder how they will deal with that?

  18. Why only the CAB? Why not the Womens Institute, the Salvation Army, British Legion, et al ? The point I am making is that there is no regulatory need for any CAB “adviser” to be qualified in this most complex area of individual finances. Why? This is a major exception and cannot be justified on the grounds “it is guidance only that is being offered” People with queries regarding their retirement income need informed advice based on their personal circumstances; they do not want a “reading ” from a pensions manual( which, because of the constant changes of legislation, is probably woefully out of date).

    I am now a introducer after 30 plus years experience in the financial services industry and someone who keeps up to date. Despite my background, quite correctly, I cannot offer advice. How is it then that a member of the public who chooses to volunteer for CAB while having no formal qualifications can? Nevertheless, assuming they are allowed so to do, what arrangements are likely to be put in place to assess the guidance given to an individual? How is competency established? Next, who is legally responsible for the guidance given when a complaint is made and upheld and involves an assessed financial loss? Who will meet the bill for the additional PI cover needed? Will CAB be embraced by the FSCS? Will CAB be regulated? etc etc

    There are so many questions surrounding the crackpot proposal that it should be strangled at birth.

    Meanwhile, I am off to the CAB to seek advice on my personal obligations regarding the insurance of my rabbit’s metaphysical well being. Keep you all informed of the response

  19. We are pleased that we are at the heart of the delivery team, working to develop the new guidance service. Our experts are seconded into HM Treasury, playing a key role in helping to build the online part of the service and develop the guidance which will be provided to customers.

    If MAS employees have been seconded to the Treasury who is paying their salaries?

    Also doesn’t this proof that MAS/FCA aren’t independent of government and should be funded by the tax payer?

  20. Good point Sean.. MM can you perhaps ask the CEO of MAS the very same question please?

  21. Our experience is that when faced with an actual “Financial Advice” situation CAB seem to tell those seeking advice to go see an IFA.

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