A new independent service launches today to offer free advice on financial issues.

Money Advice Service, which was initially set up by the Government, will provide unbiased advice on money matters (see the Financial Advice guide).

It will offer help by phone, the internet and face-to-face through a nationwide network of centres.

The service is funded by a charge levied on the financial services industry and collected by the City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority.

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It replaces the Consumer Financial Education Body, which has until now run a site called Money Made Clear.

Money Advice Service will provide a far more comprehensive advice offering, including face-to-face meetings for the first time.

In England and Northern Ireland, the face-to-face service is delivered by public sector contractor A4E, while in Scotland and Wales it is delivered by Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice Wales, respectively.

It is hoped the scheme will give people more control over their finances and help them make the most of their money.

Gerard Lemos, chairman of the Money Advice Service, says it has been designed to "make people's lives easier and better".

"We're not here to sell people anything and we won't charge anyone we are here to help people take decisions about their money and plan for a better future for themselves and their families," he explains.

The service plans to launch an online financial health check later this year, which will provide a personal action plan to help people identify their money priorities and plan for their financial future.

While it was initially set up by the Government, the service will run on an independent basis, with an independent chairman and board appointed by the Financial Services Authority.

The service can be reached online at Moneyadviceservice.org.uk and by phone on 0300 500 5000.

Further reading/Key links

Get help: Debt Problems, Financial Advice, Mortgage arrears and Redundancy guides