Which? has welcomed the news that every adult in the UK will be entitled to free generic financial advice within five years.
The government says the service will be aimed at providing consumers with easy and simple access to good quality advice.
It has appointed a task force to research and design the service and wants to have a programme in place in time for the introduction of personal accounts – the government’s low-cost pensions scheme – in 2012.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ed Balls said: ‘We want everyone in society to have access to, and use, financial services with confidence.
‘Financial decisions are difficult. Financial products are complicated and there is too much jargon.
‘This puts people off, or they can end up buying something that is not right for them. Sometimes people just want to discuss their financial options and not buy anything.’
‘Lack of trust’
He added he was determined that generic advice should be extended to all consumers who need it.
Which? personal finance campaigner Doug Taylor said: ‘Which? welcomes the government support for the creation of a generic financial advice solution.
‘The combination of complex products and powerful marketing techniques in financial services can create difficulties for consumers.
‘Which? has always said that offering generic financial advice is the key to letting consumers get the most out of the industry. This will go a long way to changing the relationship between business and consumer.
‘There is an intrinsic lack of trust in financial services at the moment. Offering good quality, accurate but simple advice will empower consumers and with the advent of personal accounts this need is even stronger today.’
The government has also announced an expansion of financial education in schools in a bid to improve the financial literacy of pupils. It will include new teaching aids and more support from financial education bodies.