Taoiseach questioned on 25% cut to Limerick MABS service

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea.

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has been questioned in the Dáil about the need to provide better job security and resources to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) in Limerick.

The issue was raised by Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea who said that the dedicated mortgage advisers employed by MABS do a tremendous job at very little cost to the taxpayer.

“However, they have no security of tenure as their contract is simply renewed annually and the practice is to tell them only at the last moment whether or not their contract will be renewed,” Deputy O’Dea told Mr Varadkar.

He said the budget for this service was cut substantially this year and in Limerick the cut in real terms came to about 25 per cent.

“There are 46,000 mortgage arrears cases in the country at present and interest rates are rising. Will the Taoiseach commit to put this service on a proper footing and allocate a proper budget to it?” he asked.

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In response, Mr Varadkar said he was involved in setting up MABS with the then Minister Frances Fitzgerald, when she was in the Department of Social Protection and he was in the Department of Justice.

“It is a very good service and has probably been wound back in recent years because of the falling number of mortgage arrears. However, the Deputy makes a valid point that with interest rates rising, we may see an increase in the number of people in arrears.

I will definitely talk to my colleagues in the Government about it and see if we can have an examination done not only of further resources but also of the valid point the Deputy makes, that the people providing these services need to have some sort of job security.”