Press release: Increasing financial capability, reducing over-indebtedness: Business plan for 2015/16 launched

Monday 30 March 2015

  • 11.5 million money management actions
  • Focus on helping people to plan ahead
  • 370,000 free debt advice sessions – up 50%
  • Taking forward recommendations from the Farnish review

A drive to increase financial capability and reduce over-indebtedness in the UK sits at the heart of the Money Advice Service’s 2015/16 Business Plan, published today. In the year ahead, the Service plans to help more people to take action to improve their money management, and to fund more free debt advice than ever before.

Leading the sector

Bringing industry, the voluntary sector, governments and regulators together to improve people’s money habits, is central to the plan. The Financial Capability Strategy for the UK, which the Service has been leading, will be published in its final form later in the year, along with the Service’s annual health check of the nation’s money management habits. The Service will also play a greater role in co-ordinating financial education in schools. Its plans to lead and co-ordinate the work of partners align closely with the recommendations of Christine Farnish’s Independent Review, published earlier this month.

More consumers taking more action to improve their finances

The Service is setting a target of encouraging customers to take 11.5 million money management actions in 2015/16 – these actions include shopping around, managing debt, starting to save or taking out appropriate insurance. Its target for customers coming to its website, phone service or face-to-face is 21.5 million. These targets are similar or higher than the expected final figures for 2014/15, delivered with a money advice budget which is 20% lower.

In the year ahead, the Service will focus its attention on helping people to plan ahead – whether that is sticking to a budget, building up a savings buffer that they can call upon if they suffer an unexpected income drop, or preparing for retirement. In line with the Farnish recommendations, the Service will also look to withdraw from areas where it duplicates what others do, particularly in the area of helping people to manage day to day. Here, it will step up its efforts to signpost to the excellent services provided by partners. It will help consumers, coming up to or in retirement, to find suitable regulated advice where it is unable to provide support itself – this will include launching and continuing to develop its Retirement Adviser Directory.

Helping more people to access free debt advice

The Service aims to fund free debt advice, through its partners, for 370,000 people in 2015/16, almost 50% more than in 2014/15. It concluded three year grant agreements with partners in England and Wales in 2014/15, putting funding onto a secure footing, and aims to do this in Scotland and Northern Ireland as soon as practicable.

Christine Farnish found that the Service’s work on debt advice has been largely successful and has made a positive difference for consumers. Building on her recommendations, the Service will continue its work to improve quality and standards across the debt advice sector, and set up a new steering group to look at ways of maximising funding and securing the best possible outcomes for consumers. For the first time, the energy and water industries are voluntarily contributing to the Service’s debt advice work - £1m from each sector.

Caroline Rookes, CEO of the Money Advice Service, said: “I am passionate about reducing levels of over-indebtedness in the UK and improving people’s ability to manage their money. This plan gives us a strong blueprint to provide greater help to people than ever before, through the services we deliver, fund and co-ordinate.

“Partnership again is vital to the successful delivery of this year’s plan. We cannot achieve our ambitions on our own, and although we work with a wide range of partners, we want to work with others too. I call on any individual, business, charity or public service, interested in helping people with their finances to get in touch and work together with us.

“Finally, we remain mindful of the challenges Christine Farnish has set us, particularly on our money advice work. We remain committed to rising to those challenges and a significant part of our work this year will be exploring, together with partners, how we respond to those, in the best interest of consumers.”

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

  1. The new Business Plan is available to download.

About the Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation. Set up by government to help people make the most of their money, it gives free, unbiased money advice across the UK – online, over the phone and face to face. Paid for by a statutory levy on the financial services industry, raised through the Financial Conduct Authority, its statutory objectives are to enhance the understanding & knowledge of members of the public about financial matters (including the UK financial system), and to enhance the ability of the public to manage their own financial affairs.

For more information please contact the Money Advice Service Press Office on 020 7943 0593 pressoffice@moneyadviceservice.org.uk