Maps lays down response to Covid-19 pensions impact in 10-year strategy

Hope William-Smith writes

The Money and Pensions Service (Maps) has a “critical role to play” in the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus, it says in a ten-year corporate plan.

The plan – delayed since the beginning of April due to Covid-19 – outlined the organisation’s immediate priorities and response to the outbreak as well as groundwork for the delivery of key initiatives including its wellbeing strategy over the next ten years.

Maps will look to create a “movement of many different organisations” over the next 12 months to build on collaboration already undertaken in advance of the release of the wellbeing strategy in January.

The plan outlines steps for the body to also increase its focus on customer delivery by spearheading sector-wide initiatives focused on advancing the quality of guidance services.

Maps chairman Sir Hector Sants said: “In this plan for 2020/21 we set out not only how we will maintain progress towards these goals but also how we will respond to the current crisis, including boosting the provision of debt advice and mobilising dozens of partners as we prepare to take on the future challenges caused by the pandemic.

“Now we need to deliver so that we make a real difference to the lives of people across the UK; we are at a pivotal moment in our journey.”

Maps said it had already also begun work on the following in response to the impact of Covid-19 on financial wellbeing:

  • Overseeing the delivery of additional debt advice and enhanced money guidance capacity across the sector, with £38m of additional funding announced by the Treasury last week.
  • Adapting the guidance and support available to help consumers understand and work through the impacts of Covid-19 on their money and pensions
  • Convening partners and stakeholders to create a coordinated response to support people impacted by coronavirus.

Chief executive Caroline Siarkiewicz said the importance of “transforming wellbeing across the UK” had been “forcefully brought home” by the three-month immediate impact of Covid-19.

“It is a health emergency which will have long-lasting impacts on the finances of many, and will impact some even more harshly than others,” she said. “We already know women, ethnic minorities, young people, and low-income workers are at particular risk [and] our vision of everyone making the most of their money and pensions doesn’t just apply in better times, but is also about increasing resilience for when the bad times hit.”

Sants added: “In these uncertain times, Maps has a critical role to play in the UK response to Covid-19 and enabling everyone to make the most of their money and pensions. Financial wellbeing is fundamental to personal wellbeing, from our physical and mental health to our relationships and ability to plan for the future.

“We have a long-term vision, and a ten-year strategy to transform financial wellbeing across the UK which sets deliberately ambitious goals.”

The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA) strategic policy director Charles McCready added: “TISA is extremely supportive of the changes made to Maps corporate plan and that it has been adapted to meet customers’ changing needs in the wake of Covid-19. We are still very much in the midst of the crisis and will see a significant increase of consumers seeking support in the coming year as people’s finances are hurt from the economic fallout of the pandemic but, as an industry, we must ensure the support is sustainable.

“In the long term, we support greater collaboration between Maps and the financial services industry to collectively deliver the support that consumers need, especially during a time of job insecurity, market volatility and money pressures arising from loss of income.”