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Shocking waits for
 MABS appointments in certain counties – Doherty

17 July, 2013 - by Pearse Doherty TD


People are waiting up to 20 weeks for a first appointment with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) according to a parliamentary response to Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty.

The longest wait is in Donegal North, where a person applying to see MABS today must wait 20.2 weeks before an appointment.

Speaking this morning Deputy Doherty said:

“When people make up their mind to approach MABS they are more often than not in a desperate place. For most, they’ve gone beyond accessing self-help guidelines on the web or using a phone service. They need to sit down with someone who will thoughtfully and patiently explain the situation to them and help them process their options.

“The waiting times revealed to me in a parliamentary question yesterday are shocking. While the state-wide average wait for a first time appointment is 4.4 weeks, which in itself is a long time, this varies wildly, with some counties experiencing inordinate delays. Thirteen MABS services have a waiting time of above four weeks but no more than six weeks and eight have a waiting time greater than six weeks.

“Donegal North has the longest waiting time, with 20.2 weeks. That means if someone looks for an appointment with that office now, it will be Christmas before they get seen. Meath is next with 13.6 weeks. In Donegal South only four people are waiting for appointments, yet they’ll be waiting six weeks. It’s hard to imagine what someone, who is in such a desperate state, must feel when they hear that’s how long they’ll be waiting for an appointment.

“The minister says the service has dealt with 2,000 emergency cases since the start of the year and these cases were fast-tracked. Knowing how good a job MABS do, I well believe that, but this must put the service under incredible strain.

“It’s absolutely obvious from the extreme waiting times in certain counties that MABS is either not being funded or staffed to the levels needed in certain parts of the state. The programme for government promised to strengthen MABS but clearly this has not materialised. The minister needs to examine this situation immediately and ensure the service is operating efficiently in all parts of the state.”

ENDS

Editor’s note: PQ from Tuesday 16 July attached below.

Question No: 499 Ref No: 34335-13

To the Minister for Social Protection

To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will list the waiting times a person may expect for an appointment with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service in each county/office area. 
- Pearse Doherty.



• For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th July, 2013.



R E P L Y

Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service ( MABS), under the aegis of the Citizens Information Board, provides a high quality personal service to assist 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.

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 ndl and National Traveller MABS. In addition, the MABS National Telephone Helpline is available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and the MABS website can be accessed 24 hours a day at www.mabs.ie. In 2013 funding of some €19 million has been provided to MABS.

Information and immediate support on all aspects of money management and personal debt is available from the MABS Helpline. In many cases the Helpline can provide the help and support people need. However, if a caller needs to avail of the face-to-face service provided by a MABS Money Adviser, they will be directed to a local MABS office.

MABS operate an appointment scheduling system and this means that in some cases clients may have to wait a number of weeks for the next available appointment. While waiting for an appointment, clients can use MABS free self-help materials to take holding action and to begin the process of assessing their situation. The MABS Helpline can also support clients while they are awaiting their first appointment with a MABS money adviser.
The Citizens Information Board (CIB), which has responsibility for MABS, compiles information on the waiting times in each MABS office on a quarterly basis and posts it to the www.mabs.ie website. The most recent statistics available, compiled to end of June 2013, record that the average waiting time from first point of contact to first appointment with a money adviser is some 4.4 weeks. This is the average nationally and there are fluctuations between offices. Details are provided by county / office area in the table below.

Over half of MABS services have a waiting time of 4 weeks or less, 13 MABS services have a waiting time of above 4 weeks but no more than 6 weeks and eight have a waiting time greater than 6 weeks. MABS has dealt with over 2,000 Emergency clients since the beginning of the year. These clients are seen immediately without any waiting period. MABS is currently working with over 24,000 clients.

I am satisfied that MABS provides a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

Client Waiting Times and Numbers at 30 June 2013

• MABS Company Waiting time Average Number awaiting first appointment
• Weeks
• Arklow & District 2.4 12
• Athlone 1.6 7
• Ballymun 5.4 32
• Blanchardstown 5.8 62
• Bray 1.6 25
• Carlow 5.4 30
• Cavan 2.4 19
• Charleville 2.8 7
• Clare 2 6
• Clondalkin 4 27
• Cork City 4.2 74
• Cork North 2.8 23
• Cork West 2.8 19
• Donegal North 20.2 160
• Donegal South 6.2 4
• Drogheda 5.6 95
• Dublin 10 + 20 (Comac) 1.8 6
• Dublin 12 Area 3.2 16
• Dublin North City 6 42
• Dublin North East 7.4 53
• Dublin South East 1.8 20
• Dun Laoghaire 4.4 28
• Dun na nGall Iarthar (Derrybeg) 2.2 1
• Dundalk 0.8 4
• Dundrum/Rathfarnham 4.4 33
• Fingal 5.8 45
• Finglas Cabra 2 14
• Galway North 5 22
• Galway South 6 75
• Kerry 2.4 40
• Kildare 6.8 119
• Kilkenny 1.8 15
• Laois 2 13
• Leitrim 3.8 9
• Liffey South West 2.6 16
• Limerick 7 61
• Longford 2.2 16
• Mayo North 5 6
• Mayo South 16 52
• Meath 13.6 117
• Monaghan 4.2 21
• Mullingar 1.2 13
• Offaly 8.6 24
• Roscommon 4.6 12
• Sligo 4 16
• Tallaght 3.2 10
• Tipperary North 3.2 18
• Tipperary South 1.6 20
• Waterford 0.8 13
• Waterford West 0.6 0
• Wexford 1.2 12

ENDS

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