Thursday, 10 July 2008

Questions (416)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

415 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding the Money Advice and Budgeting Service in County Louth; the number of offices and employees; the number of queries and the category of such queries for each year since 2002; the number of queries to date in 2008; the average waiting time for appointments for each year since 2002 to date in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29114/08]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) provides assistance to people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. There are two MABS companies in County Louth located in Dundalk and in Drogheda. Together they employ 6 money advice staff.

The MABS computer system (MABSIS) was implemented in 2005/6 and 2007 was the first year for which full year statistics are available. Statistics for 2007 in respect of the two MABS in County Louth show that they provided services to some 292 new clients and approximately 109 people sought information about budgeting and money management. The total active case load at the end of 2007 was 592.

There was some variation between the two services in relation to the breakdown of the debt owed by clients to creditors when they first approached the MABS. Overall, 56% of the debt was owed to banks and financial institutions, 23.6% was owed in respect of utilities bills, 6.9% was owed to others and 5.4% was owed credits unions. Just under 1% of the debt was owed to moneylenders and catalogues.

This year, up to the end of June, a total of 152 new clients have approached the MABS in County Louth seeking advice about debt problems. Information about waiting times in earlier years in not readily available but the present position is that clients that approach the MABS can expect to be seen promptly and will receive an appointment with a money advisor within 2 weeks.