Limerick gets short change from money advice group

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Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea

LIMERICK is getting a raw deal from a Government-funded agency that helps people in financial difficulty.

That’s according to Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, who claims that counties with lower populations than Limerick and Clare are far better resourced by Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

“The spend per capita by MABS in Clare is only €2.32 and in Limerick is €2.64 but in Tipperary the spend per capita is €4.48 and in Waterford it’s a significant €6.98.

Limerick MABS, with more than one and a half times the population of Waterford, has only eight staff compared to Waterford’s 14. Clare MABS has only four staff members compared to Waterford where there are 14 staff members for a smaller population,” Deputy O’Dea told the Limerick Post.

“Despite a higher population and a larger area of operation, Limerick and Clare have the lowest funded services by MABS in the North Munster region. There are serious inequalities in the way resources are allocated to each county by MABS.”

The Limerick TD, who is Fianna Fáil spokesman on Social Protection, said it was “beyond bizarre” that Waterford receives three times the funding of Clare on a per capita basis.

He claims that Clare and Limerick are seriously disadvantaged compared to Tipperary and especially Waterford.

“I would love somebody in to explain why Limerick MABS with more than one and a half times the population of Waterford has only eight staff compared to Waterford’s 14?

“This is a really serious issue for the population of Clare and Limerick, as it is widely accepted that there is a correlation between how well the MABS organisation in any county is resourced and the official debt insolvency outcomes for clients.

“It appears from published figures that where the services are under-resourced, individuals attending MABS are less likely to get the same positive results.”

In a statement to The Limerick Post, a MABS spokesperson explained that up until last October, the agency operated in North Munster as six separate and distinct companies.

“There was a MABS company in Clare and another in Limerick. There were two MABS companies In Waterford, one in West Waterford (Dungarvan) and one in Waterford City.

“In Tipperary, there were also two separate MABS companies, in line with the old Local Authority structure whereby Tipperary was divided into Tipperary North Riding and Tipperary South Riding.

“The new company, North Munster MABS, is overseen by a voluntary board, which aims to ensure that the provision of and access to MABS is consistent and fair across the entire region.

“This board is working within an inherited structure and it is the case that MABS in North Munster, when operating as six separate companies competed with each company for resources and funding.

“The structural change that occurred last October is going to change this ethos.

“Though the Board of North Munster MABS is at a very early stage and is just becoming familiar with the needs of each area in the catchment, it is making plans to develop a staffing strategy to best meet identified needs. Equity of access and provision of service across all four counties will be a primary driver of the staffing strategy,” the statement concluded.