The Bill will combine three financial advice bodies into one, ensuring that people across the UK are able to seek the help and advice they need to manage their finances. The Bill will:
establish a new statutory body, accountable to Parliament, with responsibility for coordinating the provision of debt advice, money guidance, and pension guidance; and
transfer the regulation of claims management services to the Financial Conduct Authority, and transfer complaints-handling responsibility to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Currently, the Money Advice Service (MAS), the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise provide some services which the Government says overlap and could be more efficient. Under this Bill a single body would provide better value for money and co-ordinate the provision of debt advice, money guidance and pension guidance and will be held accountable to Parliament. The body will be funded by existing levies on pension schemes and the financial services industry.
The Bill also promises to protect consumers from bad practice from the claims management sector such as nuisance calling, and encouraging bogus claims, and regulatory responsibility will be transferred to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) who will also have the power to cap the fees charged by these companies.
This Bill is from the Department of Work and Pensions and introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Buscombe.
This Bill does not appear too controversial, as there have been a history of complaints about malpractice by claims companies. There may be arguments about whether the proposed regulations go far enough, and whether combining three financial advice organisations into one could dilute the service rather than enhance it. Watch this space as the Bill is debated for further arguments.
How to get involved
You can contact the Department for Work and Pensions or your local MP.
If I don’t act, will it go through?
This is a Government Bill, which usually means it will certainly get passed. In a hung Parliament this is not necessarily a certainty.