Budgeting service denies it is starving Limerick of resources

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea has said that Limerick and Clare are being consistently left behind in terms of resources by MABS in the North Munster region

A SENIOR official from the Money and Budgeting Service (MABS) has denied claims that its Limerick office is being starved of resources.

As it emerged that a member of the Limerick staff was behind a successful drive to prevent banks from automatically loading court costs on to distressed borrowers, a local TD has again raised concerns about how resources are allocated.

Welcoming the Central Bank’s finding that lending institutions cannot front-load legal fees and charge interest on those fees, Yvonne Bogdanovic, manager at the Limerick North Munster MABS office, praised the work of a colleague.

“The issue was brought to the fore by Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Adviser Linda Nolan from Limerick and highlighted by a MABS Court Mentor in the registrar’s court in Waterford.

“For the 43,303 mortgage holders who are currently in mortgage arrears, these findings and recommendations are positive news,” she said.

But Deputy Willie O’Dea has said that Limerick and Clare are being consistently left behind in terms of resources by MABS in the North Munster region.

“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 also has only four staff members.

“There are serious inequalities in the way resources are allocated to each county by MABS. It is beyond bizarre that Waterford receives three times the funding of Clare on a per capita basis. Clare and Limerick are seriously disadvantaged compared to Waterford.

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

But Regional Manager for North Munster MABS, Michael Doherty, told the Limerick Post that the allocation of resources is not simply a matter of population.

“The figures Deputy O’Dea is using are out of date. Resources are allocated to the various offices depending on activity and need, not just by comparing population.

“There’s 25 per cent more unemployment in Tipperary and Waterford than there is in Limerick and Clare combined.”

Mr Doherty said that MABS is in the process of allocating another full-time equivalent post to the Limerick office and cover was provided for annual and parental leave.

“Funding for MABS is decided by Government and we have to work with the budget we are given. We have no control over that and we have no extra resources. Any extra allocation to Limerick is coming from existing resources when an opportunity opens up,” he said.