Martin Lewis, the man behind Money Saving Expert, has launched a blistering attack on the Money Advice Service (MAS), describing it as a 'narcissistic brand-building exercise'.
He was one of the witnesses appearing today before a Treasury Select Committee sub-committee which was listening to evidence as part of an inquiry into the service.
Lewis was particularly critical of the significant marketing spend, about £20m of a total £46.3m budget this year, as well as the healthcheck tool featured on its website.
He said: "The product is abominable and I'd be embarrassed to put most of their tools on my website."
Lewis repeated some of the criticisms of the healthcheck he had received through Twitter and also described the website as "bland, boring, unnecessary and unproductive".
He concluded: "This narcissistic brand-building exercise needs to stop."
His criticism of the marketing budget was also echoed by David Hawkes, the national money advice co-ordinator Advice UK.
"We're concerned about how much is being spent on marketing," he said. "We feel that the money would be better spent on frontline delivery rather than television advertising."
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Michael Fallon, a member of the committee, expressed reservations about the overall business plan, published in April, pointing out the fact that, within the entire document, there were only ten figures focusing on the budget.
Fallon asked: "Are you satisfied that this is a business plan?
"Do you share my surprise that £16m is being spent on staffing and operational costs?"
Financial Services Consumer Panel chairman Adam Philips agreed that the plan and budget was not satisfactory and, although he pointed out the significant upfront expenditure needed to develop its web service, he questioned whether the MAS had the right balance with face-to-face offerings.
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