Govt-backed Maps produces financial wellbeing strategy

Holly Roach reports...

The Money and Pensions Service (Maps) has launched a targeted strategy to address poor financial wellbeing in the UK.

The national strategy aims to improve the UK’s financial wellbeing within ten years by getting an additional two million people to regularly save for the first time.

Maps has set five “agendas for change” and priority areas that it will work with partner organisations to deliver, in order to help people make the most of their money and pensions. The agendas are financial foundations; nation of savers; credit counts; better debt advice; and future focus.

The government-sponsored organisation will look to boost the number of children and young people getting a meaningful education, the number of ‘struggling’ working-age people saving regularly, and the number of people getting the debt advice they need by two million each over the next decade.

The strategy also aims to reduce the number of people using credit to pay for food or bills by two million and ensure five million more people understand enough about their finances to plan for later life.

Maps said it hoped its agendas for change and the work of external organisations would work towards achieving the national financial wellbeing goals by 2030.

The organisation stated that in co-ordinating the strategy, it will “mobilise partners through governance, support them with a toolkit and fund delivery to consumers that will contribute significantly to the national goals”.

It added: “Maps does not anticipate that this will ever be at a level that makes it the most important driver of change directly to consumers. However, MAPS does expect that all its guidance and debt advice services will contribute to the five priority measures and outcomes.”

The People’s Pension director of policy Gregg McClymont said: “We welcome the proactive steps MAPS is taking in order to help improve the financial resilience of so many who have been left forgotten for so long.”

He noted a key way to boost the retirement pots of many workers is to lower the auto-enrolment (AE) earnings threshold, suggesting the government should reduce it to £6,136 from the current £10,000, a move he said “would allow 1.2 million more workers access to a pension”.

‘Worthy aim’

Aegon pensions director Steven Cameron added: “Improving financial wellbeing across the UK is a worthy aim. Many people are living life on a financial cliff edge with debt and loans, coupled with the burden of financial obligations and commitments.”

He continued: “Employers can be doing more to support their staff with their finances… With the right tools, including support from Maps and advisers, people can plan their financial future with confidence, paving the way for increased financial wellbeing.

“A key part of this will be Maps signposting individuals to advisers,” he said, “But in turn, there may be occasions where advisers may signpost customers to Maps to receive more general information and guidance where full advice is not needed.”

Ovation Finance chairman and Financial Wellbeing Podcast presenter Chris Budd said the initiative is “very much welcomed” and said, “it’s great that financial wellbeing is a term being used both by MAPS and by the FCA”.

Budd, who launched the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing said: “It is important, however, that financial wellbeing is a broad subject and not just about debt and budgeting.”