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Public financial guidance review: consultation on a single body

Last updated: 13 Feb 2017

Consulting body:
HM Treasury
Period of consultation:
Runs from 21 December 2016 to 13 February 2017
CML action:
Response submitted

In March 2016 the government published the ‘Public financial guidance review: proposal for consultation’, seeking views on the government’s provision of debt advice and money and pensions guidance.

As announced at Budget 2016, this document set out the government’s plans to replace the Money Advice Service (MAS) with a new money guidance body and to bring together the Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and DWP’s “Pension Wise” guidance into a new pensions guidance body.

These plans were designed to reduce duplication in the provision of public financial guidance and to help consumers find the information they need.

The government has listened to the views received in the responses to the consultation and has decided that a single body would be better able to respond to the different financial guidance needs of consumers, making it easier for them to access the help they need to make effective financial decisions.

The new body will bring together pensions guidance, money guidance and debt advice in one place, delivering and commissioning specific services to ensure that as many consumers as possible receive high-quality, impartial financial guidance.

The government wants to test with organisations which have experience of delivering successful consumer guidance services and others, whether this model will allow consumers to access the guidance they need to make effective financial decisions.

The creation of the body is subject to the Cabinet Office approval process. The government anticipates that the new body will be launched no earlier than Autumn 2018. In the meantime, MAS, TPAS and Pension Wise will continue to deliver their statutory functions.

CML response

The CML has responded to previous discussions of the future of public financial guidance, including the Farnish Review, the 2015 Public Financial Guidance Consultation and the March 2016 Public Financial Guidance Review.

The main issue for discussion in this latest consultation is the proposal to create a single body to deliver pensions guidance, money guidance and debt advice.

As we stated in our March 2016 submission, the CML has no views as to the structure of pension advice.

However, there are overlaps between pensions and mortgages. These include the trade-off between paying down a mortgage and building up a pension; the use of housing equity in later life to support lifestyle or provide for long-term care; the impact of the new pension freedoms on assessing affordability (in the absence of guaranteed income where annuities have not been taken out); and use of pension pots to pay off mortgage debt.

Any reform of public financial guidance should ensure that silos do not develop that weaken understanding of interplay between pensions, financial capability and debt.

Bringing together pensions guidance, money guidance and debt advice in a Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB) should have the core aims of taking an holistic approach to advice and guidance on financial matters; and making effective use of resources to drive efficiency in both value for money and customer outcome terms.

Read the full CML response below.