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11 March 2010

Chancellor launches new free money advice service

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling is today launching a new free money advice service to be rolled out around the country.

The Moneymadeclear service includes a helpline, website and face-to-face advice services, delivered through a range of partners such as Citizens Advice Bureaux and Age Concern. The cost of the service will be funded by a levy on the financial sector and funds recovered from dormant bank accounts, with Government meeting part of the cost in the first year.

People will be able to phone up, or talk face-to-face with independent experts - to get free advice on money worries, financial planning, or advice on their rights and actions that they can take if they feel they are not getting a fair deal.

The Government has trialled the service in the North East and the North West since last April, and has helped 500,000 people, including 23,000 who received face-to-face assistance. The new service is expected to help a million people in the next year.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said:

“Moneymadeclear is free, impartial advice for all, whether you are unsure about the small print in a mortgage form; want advice about opening a savings account for your children or grand-children or you want some help dealing with repayments before they get out of hand.”

“This service will provide much needed advice for one million people across the UK in the coming year alone”

Notes for editors

  1. The Moneymadeclear helpline is available on 0300 500 5000. The Moneymadeclear service will be jointly funded by the Government and the Financial services Authority (FSA) in 2010-11. The Pre-Budget Report 2009 committed £20 million from Government and the FSA to fund rollout of the service in 2010-11, enabling the service to help one million people by March 2011. PBR also announced that the Government intends to direct dormant account funds of up to £100m to support the implementation of Money Guidance in future years.
  2. The Moneymadeclear website and helpline are available now.  Face-to-face sessions are available through a range of partners such as Citizens Advice, Age Concern and A4e across the North West and North East. Face-to-face provision will be rolled out across the rest of the UK from next month, targeting priority areas, such as East London, Glasgow and South Wales, where evidence shows that large numbers of people who are in need of the service live.
  3. A £12 million pathfinder service has been underway in the North West and North East since April 2009 to trial the service ahead of rolling it out nationally. The pathfinder has been jointly run and funded by HM Treasury and the FSA.
  4. Interim evaluation findings from the pathfinder show that the service is working well and helping people manage their money better. It has helped over 500,000 people across the North West and North East. Of these, around 20,000 called the helpline and around 23,000 used the face-to-face service. Around half of users of the service were vulnerable to the consequences of poor financial decision making. Overall levels of satisfaction in the service were high - three out of four face-to-face users, two out of three telephone users and over half the web users were very satisfied. 8 in 10 would use the service again. Two months after using the service, most people had taken some action to address their finances: half of the website users and 6 in 10 telephone and face-to-face users had taken some action.
  5. As well as support for consumers on money, the Government is committed to ensuring that children learn vital money skills when they are at school to equip them for the financial choices and challenges they will face later on. Since September 2008, there has been a specific economic wellbeing and financial capability strand of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education at Key Stages 3 and 4. Government has introduced provisions in the Children, Schools and Families Bill to make PSHE a statutory subject in England. 
  6. The Government has introduced provisions in the Financial Services Bill currently going through Parliament to require the Financial Services Authority to set up a new consumer financial education body, which will take forward the implementation of the Moneymadeclear service. Subject to legislation, this will be established this spring.

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