MAS stops all marketing and brand activity

Govt plans to make significant changes

Nicola Brittain
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MAS stops all marketing and brand activity

The Money Advice Service (MAS) has stopped all marketing activities with immediate effect, following the government's announcement that it plans to transform the body.

In its business plan for 2016-17, released on 11 May, MAS said it had stopped all marketing and brand-building activity as well as the development of its website, freeing up £4m to fund ‘what works' initiatives delivered through voluntary partners.

These initiatives are tried and tested methods that aim to enhance financial capability among consumers. Their progress will be monitored through a ‘financial capability survey' with formal reviews published in 2020 and 2025, alongside updates on the strategy's website.

Advisers will be able to contribute to the strategy by joining a number of steering groups with specific targets and success measurements.

The MAS has come under fire on several occasions for its excessive marketing spend which cost the advice industry millions but was deemed ineffective. Despite criticism following a review in December 2013, the body maintained its marketing budget at just over £12m for the same year. 

Government documents released in March revealed that the Treasury planned to abolish the MAS alongside its pension-focused equivalent The Pension Advisory Service (TPAS) and merge the two bodies into a new entity.

The new organisation would offer pensions and money guidance and be funded by a levy on the financial services and pensions sectors, with the Financial Conduct Authority collecting the fees for the money body and parts of the fees for its pensions equivalent, and The Pensions Regulator collecting the rest.

Chief executive Caroline Rookes said: "The Money Advice Service will continue to serve millions of customers each year up to April 2018, as well as continuing to grow the financial capability partnerships and evidence base needed for the long-term Financial Capability Strategy for the UK.

"Following feedback on our draft 2016/17 plan and the government announcement on the future of financial guidance, we have taken action to cease all marketing and brand building activity immediately.

"We have also shifted investment away from the long-term development of our website meaning that we can increase funding into the front line by distributing an additional four million to ‘what works' initiatives delivered through voluntary partners. Activity will continue as laid out in the consultation document for debt advice and financial capability work."

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