A request for information by Money Marketing has found the Money Advice Service (MAS) spent over a £1m on an office refurbishment and staff away days in 2013/14.

The MAS, which offers advice on everything financial from debt to insurance, spent £841,378 on a refurb for their London Hatton Gardens offices in March 2013, while they then spent £250,540 on their “learning and development programme” that includes a number of staff away days.

Their budget has been decreased this year though, with it being £77.5m for 2014/15, compared to £78.2m in 2013/14.

A spokeswoman for MAS said: “The lease was due to expire in March  and it was more cost-efficient to remain in the current properties with a new 10-year lease and a refurbishment than to move to alternative locations.”

In regards to the away days for staff, there is an annual one that includes all workers, while there are other regular training related ones. They were used for teams to help “promote collaborative working” and “leadership team development days” that were intended to improve the MAS.

This all came about after the Mas chief executive, Caroline Rookes, said in an interview with Money Marketing that they’d be open, even with the Freedom of Information Act not applying to them.

Money Marketing duly put in a request for information and received some of MAS’s spending figures. They also asked about the amount of money spent on bonuses and foreign trips, but this was not disclosed as the information was deemed “commercially sensitive”.

David Gibson, from Gibson Financial Planning, attacked the MAS for its costs: “It is galling that an organisation we pay for is spending this sort of money on these things and if the MAS was really committed to transparency, it could ask to be subject to FoI requests.”

Image by Simon & His Camera