The government will offer every adult, living in the UK, free basic advice about financial products within the next five years.
A nationwide scheme will be promised today by Labour, which is aimed at addressing the British people's lamentable ignorance with regard to financial matters.
Otto Thoresen, the chief executive of Aegon UK, has been appointed to lead a task force to design the scheme.
The task force has to report their findings and recommendations by the end of 2007.
In theory, the free service will provide advice about transactions; ranging from mortgages and pensions, to investing in the government's Child Trust Fund and baby bonds.
The theory is that there will be a national helpline, much like the NHS helpline, a website and network of new/existing local advice centres. The scheme will link to independent financial advisers and product providers.
The estimated £50M a year cost to run the scheme will be shared by the taxpayer and the financial services industry.
Ed Balls, Treasury minister, is quoted in the FT as saying:
"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."
Maybe as an "add on", the government should also educate school children in financial basics? That way the problem is addressed from both sides.