Financial Advice Market Review must tackle all of the gaps in advice services
Citizens Advice issues a joint response to the consultation on public financial guidance and the Financial Advice Market Review
Offering money advice when people are in debt could help consumers avoid future money worries and make them more resilient to financial shocks, says Citizens Advice.
The national charity, which helped with 1.8 million debt and financial issues in the last 12 months, wants people who receive debt advice to also have the chance to get money advice.
By providing those in debt with help on how to budget, shop around to find the best deals and understand their saving options people will gain the skills to become financially stable, says the charity.
The recommendation forms part of the charity’s joint response to the consultation on public financial guidance and the Financial Advice Market Review. The response identifies four advice gaps which are standing in the way of people getting the help they need to manage and plan their finances.
Previous research from Citizens Advice found 13 million adults find managing money difficult. Yet just six per cent of people have paid for advice in the last two years, and of the remainder who haven’t - only four per cent plan to pay for it in the future.
Citizens Advice believes that as well as supporting people at crisis point, offering holistic advice services at key moments in people’s lives and in settings where consumers wouldn’t usually think about their finances could mean more people get the support they need and are better prepared for the future.
For instance, a wake-up information pack from the Student Loans Company to new or graduating students could direct people to online tools, workshops or individual support to help them manage their money.
Already some GPs ‘prescribe advice’ as a way to tackle the route cause of some health problems such as money or housing issues, making this a common practice across the board would help more people get the support they need.
Similarly Citizens Advice says that by building advice services around consumer needs there is an opportunity to make sure people get a holistic service which takes into their full circumstances, range of problems and queries. For example one in four people who have come to Citizens Advice for a face to face Pension Wise appointment have gone onto get help with other issues including debt and benefits.
As many as 23 million people have missed out on this preventative advice at least once in their life.
The charity also says as well as providing services which offer free support and making sure preventative services are able, and referred to, the review must bring down the cost of independent financial advice. Over five million people said they would pay for advice if it cost less.
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:
“Good advice and guidance is key to a secure financial future. But millions of people are missing out on advice and support that could put them on a stronger financial footing.
“Improved links between debt and money advice would mean people not only get to sort out their debts but also gain the skills to avoid similar problems in the future. Offering more advice options which vary by cost would also allow consumers to pick and choose from services at different moments in their lives, depending on their current financial circumstances.
“The roll-out of Universal Credit, increase in consumer borrowing and a potential rise in interest rates could lead to big financial challenges for some households. That’s why it is really important people are able to access to free and impartial guidance services to help them get to grip with their finances. Diverting more of the money advice funding towards frontline services would help to make sure these services are available for those who need them.”
Citizens Advice recommends that more of the funding for money advice goes towards frontline services. At the moment just 40 per cent of statutory money advice funding is spent on the frontline compared with 90 per cent of debt advice funding reaching frontline services.
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
- Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.