Dáil Éireann - Volume 685 - 18 June, 2009
Written Answers. - Money Advice and Budgeting Service.
Deputy Seán Sherlock Deputy Seán Sherlock
Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is only one Money Advice and Budgeting Service office serving Cork city, all of east County Cork and parts of west Cork with the average waiting period for an appointment now standing at five to six weeks; if she will allocate additional resources to provide a MABS service based in east Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24213/09]
Deputy Mary Hanafin Deputy Mary Hanafin
Deputy Mary Hanafin: The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is the main Government funded service which provides assistance to people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. In 2009, almost €18 million has been provided to assist the MABS in dealing with its workload. There are 53 independent MABS companies with voluntary boards of management operating the local MABS services from 65 locations throughout the country. In addition, the MABS National Telephone Helpline is available from 9 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday at lo-call number 1890 283 438 and budgeting and money management information can be accessed 24 hours a day at www.mabs.ie.
Cork MABS has 7 money advice staff and provides service to Cork city, in the main, as well as east Cork and other parts of the county. It is one of 4 MABS with a total of 17 money advice staff that provide services throughout County Cork. North Cork MABS has 4 money advice staff and is based in Mallow. West Cork MABS has 3 money advice staff and is located in Dunmanway and Charleville MABS has 3 money advice staff. Applications for funding for additional staff are kept under review should any further funding become available for extra posts.
All MABS companies, including Cork MABS, operate an appointment system for meeting clients. Clients with urgent difficulties are prioritised for attention and dealt with promptly. Less urgent cases are referred to the National Telephone Helpline and to the MABS website for immediate assistance with budgeting and money management issues. The Helpline can now handle less complex straight forward single debt cases such as threatened utility disconnections and deals directly with the ESB and An Bord Gáis in relation to these cases. Over 90% of callers to the Helpline find that their money management and budgeting issues can be resolved with the assistance of the helpline advisor. Some 10% of callers are referred to the local MABS for appointment.
 In addition the Helpline provides assistance to local services to manage their appointment lists by providing an initial preliminary MABS service to clients and ongoing support while they await their appointment with their local money advisor.
The MABS advises that people coping with debt difficulties should take early action. An approach to MABS via any of the channels can be the first positive step in addressing debt difficulties. The MABS provides a high quality personal service that helps many people to cope with and overcome the burden of indebtedness that can have such an impact on their lives and that of their families.
Dáil Éireann 685 Written Answers. Money Advice and Budgeting Service.