The government is to create a single guidance body for pensions, money and debt matters, which will replace The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS), including Pension Wise, and the Money Advice Service (MAS), it has said.
Ministers said they wanted to make it "as easy as possible" for consumers to access financial guidance, in a statement on 9 October.
The Treasury had been consulting on how to best shape any future guidance bodies following former chancellor George Osborne's announcement in March that government-sponsored TPAS and MAS would be reformed and ‘slimmed down'.
It had initially been considering a two-body delivery model which would have seen the MAS replaced by a streamlined money guidance body and TPAS and Pension Wise brought together into a new pension guidance body.
However, the Treasury said industry and consumer finance groups had raised concerns about how two bodies might work together effectively and whether a single body would provide a better service for consumers.
Eventually, ministers decided a single body would be better able to respond to the different financial guidance needs of consumers, making it easier for them to get access to the help they need, it said.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury Simon Kirby said: "Our government wants to give ordinary people more control over the lives, and that includes their financial security. We strongly believe that creating one public guidance body is the best way of making it as easy as possible for people to access the help they need to get their financial questions answered."
It is unclear when the new body will enter the market. Osborne had wanted the new bodies to start operating from April 2018.
However, the government said legislation to create the service will not be included in the Pensions Schemes Bill as it would consult on the best way to design a single body model first.
TPAS, MAS and the government's retirement guidance guarantee Pension Wise are free for consumers at point of delivery. However, they are costly for the industry, which partly funds the services.
MAS in particular has come under heavy criticism from advisers in the past for its spend on marketing and senior personnel.
Osborne said in March the proposed set-up was designed to remove the "duplication of services" in the market and would "direct more funding to the front line".
It is unclear who the new single body will be accountable to and how funding will be allocated.
Under previous proposals the new pensions guidance body was accountable to government and operated 'at arm's length' to the Department for Work and Pensions, while the money guidance body would answer solely to the Treasury.
Currently financial advisers fund Pension Wise and the money arm of the MAS. For the current year advisers were asked to contribute £2.9m to the MAS - about a third less than last year, when they paid £4.2m - and about £2.7m, or 12% of the running cost of the service, to Pension Wise.
MAS' money guidance department cut costs by 25%, from £44.8m to £33.7m, last year after implementing a string of cost-cutting measures, particularly around marketing and the running of its website.
'A positive step'
The Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA) welcomed the government's move to create a single guidance body.
Director general David Dalton-Brown said: "TISA hopes that by creating a single unified body the new guidance service will address some of the clear gaps in the service today, such as the need for debt advisers to warn people not to opt out of a workplace pension if it would mean them losing the employer contribution and similarly those advising pensioners should always bring the value of their house into the discussion.
"We see this as a positive step forward and will help consumers make the right financial decisions."
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