Government to introduce bill for merged guidance bodies

29 June 2017

 

In October 2016 it was announced that plans would be taken forward to develop a single public financial guidance body which is responsible for delivering debt advice, money and pensions guidance to the public.

 

In a background briefing note for the Queen's Speech (21 June 2017) the government confirmed that the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill will combine three financial advice bodies into one.

 

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill will:

  • establish a new statutory body, accountable to Parliament, with responsibility for coordinating the provision of debt advice, money guidance, and pension guidance;

  • transfer the regulation of claims management services to the Financial Conduct Authority, and transfer complaints-handling responsibility to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

  • Establish a new arm’s-length Single Financial Guidance Body that will replace three existing providers of publicly funded financial guidance. This measure aims to improve the UK’s financial capability by providing a more joined-up service to help people make effective financial decisions.

  • Strengthen the regulation of Claims Management Companies by transferring the regulatory responsibility to the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

The main benefits of the Bill would be to provide greater clarity and make it simpler for customers by having a single body responsible for all public financial guidance. The current public financial guidance service is delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise, with services overlapping. A single body will improve efficiency by reducing duplication and will deliver better value for money.

 

The Bill will also protect consumers from widespread malpractice across the Claims Management Companies sector, such as nuisance calls and encouragement of fraudulent claims, by transferring regulatory responsibility to the Financial Conduct Authority. This transfer will also help ensure that senior managers are personally held accountable for the actions of their business.

 

Geographical extent - The financial guidance measures would apply to the UK, except the provision of debt advice by the Single Financial Guidance Body which would apply to England only as debt administration is a devolved matter. Measures on regulating Claims Management Companies would apply to England and Wales only.