MP Mark Garnier: Pressure is on MAS to turn itself around

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Conservative MP and Treasury select committee member Mark Garnier says the “pressure is on” Money Advice Service’s new top team to turn around the organisation in the wake of severe criticism from polititians and industry.

The committee will meet in September and is expected to discuss publishing findings of the inquiry into MAS launched by the Treasury select sub-committee in May 2012.

Members have criticised MAS’s budget and its business plan with Conservative MP Jesse Norman questioning whether the organisation should exist at all.

MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes took over from Tony Hobman in February and former Life Trust Holdings chief executive Andy Briscoe replaces the current chairman Gerard Lemos in September.

In June, Rookes told the sub-committee she believes MAS has “turned a corner” since she started in the role and sub-committee chair George Mudie said she had done “very well” so far, acknowledging she had “inherited the sins of others”.

Garnier says: “Without a shadow of a doubt the pressure is on for this new team to turn the organisation around. MAS gets a lot of money from the industry and so what is being done about all this criticism is still a fair question.”

He cites MAS’s mortgage calculator and comparison table and its work on a code of practice for providers of financial education in schools as examples of the service “trying to reinvent the wheel”.

He says: “MAS could be a very useful signposting website.  We should be asking whether someone out there already, with a little bit of financial help and some targets, could do a much better job.”

Rookes says: “In tough economic times, we are committed to joining up with partners and other service providers to ensure that consumers access the right advice, wherever and whenever they need it.”