The Mail on Sunday

Election threat to free financial advice

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THE General Election threatens to derail plans to provide free, impartial finance advice for the public.

A Bill passing through Parliament includes provision for the Consumer Financial Education Body, which would oversee guidance on money matters made available to the public over the internet, by phone and in person.

The programme, which is called Money Guidance, would come under the umbrella of Moneymadec­lear, the educationa­l brand of the Financial Services Authority.

The Bill would enable the programme to be funded partly by the FSA, partly by the financial services industry and partly by money released from cash held in forgotten bank accounts.

But unless the Bill passes through Parliament before the election, which seems unlikely, it may never be passed.

Money Guidance is the outcome of a review undertaken into the provision of financial advice by Otto Thoresen, chief executive of insurance giant Aegon.

The results were published in 2008 and recommende­d a basic free advice format that covered generic areas such as mortgages, pensions and investment­s.

The Tories have said they would dismantle the FSA, which could sweep away plans for Money Guidance.

It would include advice delivered through Citizens Advice and charities for older people. They are lobbying to keep the legislatio­n on track.

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