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Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 9 December 2008

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Questions (209, 210, 211, 212, 213)

Arthur Morgan

Question:

329 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of clients dealt with or on a waiting list at each Money Advice and Budgeting Service office to date in 2008; the number of clients dealt with at each Money Advice and Budgeting Service office in 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44927/08]

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Arthur Morgan

Question:

330 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the waiting times at each Money Advice and Budgeting Service office at present; the waiting times at each Money Advice and Budgeting Service office in November 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44928/08]

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Arthur Morgan

Question:

331 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when the Money Advice and Budgeting Service telephone helpline was established; the number of calls received to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44929/08]

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Arthur Morgan

Question:

332 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will confirm that the Money Advice and Budgeting Service telephone helpline number is a 1890 number, which charges users a fee of up to 35 cent per minute; her views on whether this is fair and on whether the helpline should be a 1850 callsave number which charges a flat fee of approximately 30 cent irrespective of the length of the call; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44930/08]

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Arthur Morgan

Question:

333 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position with regard to putting the Money Advice and Budgeting Service on a statutory footing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44931/08]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 329 to 333, inclusive, together.

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. There are 53 independent companies with voluntary boards of management and over 240 money advice staff operating the local services throughout the country. Last year, MABS provided services to 12,400 new clients throughout the country. To the end of November 2008 approximately 15,600 new clients have approached the service. Information on the number of new clients dealt with in each MABS company in 2007 and up to the end of September 2008, the latest breakdown available per MABS company, is detailed in the following table.

All MABS Companies operate an appointment system for meeting clients. Information is not available on the MABSIS on the waiting times for appointments at different offices. However, in all cases, clients with urgent difficulties are dealt with promptly. Less urgent cases are referred to the MABS National Telephone Helpline, 1890 382438 available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and to the MABS website www.mabs.ie available 24 hours for immediate assistance with budgeting and money management issues.

The MABS National Telephone Helpline was launched in October 2007 and has dealt with almost 11,500 calls to date. 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 for appointment to the local MABS services.

MABS National Helpline uses an Eircom LoCall 1890 number to ensure that callers can ring from anywhere in Ireland at local call rate. Callers using landlines incur a charge of 1.32 cent per minute after 6pm and 5.17 cent per minute during office hours. Callers ringing from mobile phones incur higher charges, but in such cases it is the practice for the helpline advisor to offer to ring the caller back. The use of 1890 numbers for the MABS Helpline is in line with the practice of other national helplines such as the Financial Regulator, Citizens Information and the Food Safety Authority. The objective is to ensure that there is a low cost accessible service for clients throughout the country while at the same time ensuring value for money for the taxpayer who funds the service.

The MABS provides a high quality personal service to the public and makes a difference to peoples lives. However, it has been recognised for some time that the Service needs a proper legislative basis and structure. The Programme for Government envisaged that such a new structure for the MABS would involve strong national leadership and would maximise the current local voluntary involvement in the service.

The Government has decided that this can best be achieved by placing the MABS with the Citizens Information Board. The MABS and Citizens Information Centres complement each other well as both are involved in providing information, advice and advocacy services to the public.

In addition, the Citizens Information Board has a long association with the MABS at both national and local level and was involved in establishing some of the original MABS pilot projects.

The legislative provisions to give effect to the proposed changes are contained in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008. It is proposed that the legislative provisions will be brought into effect by way of a Commencement Order and that a six months period up to July 2009 will be required to complete the administrative arrangements for the transfer of responsibility for the MABS to the Citizens Information Board.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service — New Clients

Company

New Clients to 31st December 2007

New clients to 30th September 2008

Arklow

183

199

Athlone

140

130

Ballymun

457

416

Blanchardstown

394

332

Bray

379

439

Carlow

698

426

Cavan

230

146

Charleville

83

86

Clare

224

220

Clondalkin

252

239

COMAC

246

310

Cork

596

780

North Cork

224

275

West Cork

221

222

North Donegal

236

210

South Donegal

49

64

West Donegal

27

13

Drogheda

158

99

Dublin 12 Area

232

200

Dublin North City

380

199

Dublin North East

308

294

Dublin South East

155

158

Dundalk

134

135

Dundrum/Rathfarnham

203

236

Dun Laoghaire

290

325

Fingal

219

163

Finglas

432

353

North Galway

256

257

South Galway

486

456

Kerry

520

514

Kildare

376

342

Kilkenny

274

265

Laois

271

319

Leitrim

87

94

Liffey South West

303

223

Limerick

185

468

Longford

106

113

North Mayo

113

85

South Mayo

158

166

Meath

172

133

Monaghan

77

61

Mullingar

174

134

Offaly

147

172

Roscommon

96

108

Sligo

131

165

Tallaght

332

321

North Tipperary

166

155

South Tipperary

357

425

Waterford

443

453

West Waterford

98

94

Wexford

256

234

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