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MAS consumer contacts up 42% year on year

by: Carmen Reichman
  • 03/02/2015
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MAS consumer contacts up 42% year on year
Money Advice Service (MAS) partnerships with financial services organisations are “coming to fruition” as “more people than ever” have turned to the service for help with their finances, chief executive Caroline Rookes has said.

The government-appointed service handled 14.8m customer contacts in the three quarters leading up to December, up on 10.4m in the same period the year before.

Its annual target for 2014-2015 is 16m contacts.

The vast majority of people who got in touch with MAS in the nine months to December – 14.7m – did so via the internet.

Rookes (pictured) said the MAS had made some “great leaps forward” having helped 4.9m consumers take some form of action with their finances in the year to date, beating its 4.5m annual target.

Most – 3.5m – of these actions were around budgeting, while 221,000 people used MAS to help them deal with retirement-related issues during the period.

The service was dropped from face to face provision of the government’s free at-retirement guidance announced as part of the wide ranging pension reforms taking effect from April.

Instead it was tasked with behind the scenes support work and putting together a directory of regulated retirement advisers, which recently opened for registration.

The MAS also collaborated with a number of financial services firms to provide money guidance and spread awareness, including RBS, Virgin Money and MSN.

Rookes said: “I’m really pleased to see our partnerships with financial services organisations – banks, building societies, insurance firms and regulated advisers – coming to fruition.

“If we are going to improve the financial capability of the UK, it’s vital to have those partners on board.”

She added: “Our focus in the period ahead is working with HM Treasury, the Pensions Advisory Service, Citizens Advice and others, to help people prepare for the biggest changes to retirement in a generation.

“People will have a lot of new freedoms and we have an important role to play in encouraging people to think carefully before making their choices.”

MAS’ third quarter results showed the service exceeded its satisfaction targets – the number of people who said they were happy with the help they got, those stating they will revisit the service and those who said they would ‘recommend’ it.

It fell short in the number of people saying MAS had helped them decide on a course of action.

MAS’ debt advice arm, which carries out debt advice through partner firms, recorded 166,000 sessions in the three quarters towards an annual target of 237,500.

The MAS began a three year grant agreement with partners in England and Wales including Citizens Advice in the last quarter, which it said will increase the number of people receiving debt advice by 35%.

Under fire

MAS came under fire in a series of letters written by chairman of the Treasury Committee Andrew Tyrie to George Osborne last year, which called for its abolition.

The committee had previously issued a damning report, which concluded the MAS was “not currently fit for purpose” and criticised its role and reach.

 




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