Despite seeing record numbers contact the local branch in Cavan already this year, Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) expect even further demand given the introduction of the Personal Insolvency Bill before the Dáil.
Up to the end of June this year, a total of 271 people have contacted MABS in Cavan seeking advice in coping with their debt burden, and given a hectic few months, service coordinator for the service in Cavan Karl Cronin fully expects this figure to outstrip the 597 people who came through their doors in 2012.
“The summer months were extremely busy, busier than we expected and we fully expect to exceed the number of clients we deal with this year compared to last year,” he told The Anglo-Celt.
In the six-and-a-half years from 2007 to the end of June this year, a total of 3,065 people, or according to last census figures in the region of 4% of the county’s population, have directly registered with MABS seeking money and budgeting advice. This figure doesn’t take into account the number of clients who contact the service by phone in search of advice.
In neighbouring counties too, demand on services at the MABS centre in Longford has rose almost five-fold since 2007 to the end of last year, and increased two-fold in Leitrim, Meath and Monaghan in that same period.
Mr Cronin’ main concerns are the rising number of clients who are contacting the service reporting fears regarding the future of their homes, mortgage debt and arrears. He expects the number of this category of client to increase further given the introduction of the Personal Insolvency Bill in the Dáil.
Currently MABS have the equivalent of five staff working at the local office, but even still, new cases must wait for several weeks before an appointment can be secured.
“Cavan MABS have been authorised by the Insolvency Service of Ireland to act as an Approved Intermediary for debt relief notices. We have two members of staff who can perform this role and we are expecting demand for that part of service to increase in the coming months,” he explains.
The Government has also seen the need to support the service with the Citizens Information Board allocated a budget of approximately €47.5 million in 2013, of which some €19 million has been assigned to MABS. In 2012 the corresponding allocation was €46.8 million and €18.3million respectively.
Mr Cronin says the influx in clients will no doubt “make things more difficult” when trying to cope with the already growing existing client base.
“But we have an Approved Intermediary Service Transition Unit within MABS which provides support to our service in carrying out this new role. Even still the current waiting time is two-and-a-half weeks, and that too will unfortunately increase the more clients access our services.”
MABS is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board. The MABS Helpline can be contacted Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on 0761 07 2000. Further information available at www.mabs.ie
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