The Money Advice and Budgeting Service ( MABS), under the aegis of the Citizens Information Board, assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems, in particular those on low incomes and people living on social welfare payments.
In 2013, the Citizens Information Board has been allocated a budget of approximately €47.5 million of which some €19 million has been assigned to MABS. In 2012 the corresponding allocation was €46.8 million and €18.3 million respectively.
The Money Advice and Budgeting Service is made up of a network of 53 companies, which includes 51 local companies and 2 national companies MABS National Development Limited and National Traveller MABS. There are some 277 money advice staff employed across the MABS network.
The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 provides for a Debt Relief Notice for persons with no assets or income with unsecured debts of up to €20,000. With the assistance of an approved intermediary, a person may apply for a Debt Relief Notice which will allow for the full write-off of qualifying unsecured debt after a three year supervision period. The Citizens Information Board (CIB), which has the statutory responsibility for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) has agreed to my request that MABS be an approved intermediary for the purpose of processing applications for Debt Relief Notices. Those who can avail of Debt Relief Notices are typically part of the MABS core client cohort of people on low incomes in debt or in danger of falling into debt.
Sanction has been given for 16 temporary staff to be assigned to MABS for up to 2 years, to establish an Approved Intermediary Service as part of the new Insolvency Service. The CIB and MABS National Development Limited are working closely to ensure that the appropriate structures are in place within MABS to implement this new and important statutory role. They have also engaged proactively with the Insolvency Service to ensure that the Approved Intermediary Service is fully operational in time for the establishment of the Insolvency Service.
I am satisfied that MABS will play an important role in the new arrangements for dealing with debt and will continue to provide a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.