Average debt of clients at Galway MABS offices over €26,000

The average debt owed by clients seeking help from the Money and Budgetary Services (MABS ) offices in Galway was €26,400 as at end of June last which was above the national average of €15,100, that is according to figures obtained from the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

It was announced earlier this week that 19 MABS offices around the country are to get additional staff to help deal with the surge in the numbers contacting the debt counselling organisation’s hotline. The helpline received 12,200 calls in the first six months of 2009 compared with almost 11,000 in the full year of 2008.

The extra demand for financial advice is being felt at MABS offices in north Galway and south Galway (including Galway city ) which are to be allocated an additional half time temporary money advisor.

A Department spokesperson confirmed that from January to the end of June 2009, a total of 303 new clients were seen by south Galway MABS and 70 people sought information about budgeting and money management from local services. The total active caseload as at end of June was 592, and the average debt owed by new clients when they first presented at MABS was €24,800. The majority of clients, 60 per cent, were on social welfare payments with 28 per cent of these in receipt of Jobseekers payments (UA/UB ) and 12 per cent in receipt of OPFP. In addition, 22 per cent of clients were in receipt of wages and 58 per cent of clients had no second income coming into the household.

The number of new clients seen by the north Galway MABS was 269 from January to the end of June 2009 and 15 people sought information about budgetary and money management from local services. The total active caseload as at end of June was 447 and the average debt owed, by new clients when they first presented at MABS, was €28,000. The majority of clients, 60 per cent, were on social welfare payments with 32 per cent in receipt of Jobseekers payments (UA/UB ) and eight per cent in receipt of OPFP. In addition, 27 per cent of clients were in receipt of wages and 49 per cent of clients had no second income coming in to the household.

Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Hanafin TD, said that she had received Department of Finance approval for additional posts which will see five of the busiest urban offices each getting a full time temporary post, while 14 other offices will get additional half time temporary posts. In the first six months of 2009 almost 9,800 new clients were seen by MABS staff across the country, and the average debt owed when they first presented was €15,100.

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