More money advisors welcome, but government needs better coordination between departments and services

11 August 2009

Legal rights organisation FLAC has welcomed the appointment of 19 new advisors to the government's money advice agency, but warns that a more coordinated approach across government departments is needed to help the increasing number of people who are over-indebted.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs announced today it will hire 5 full-time and 14 part-time advisors for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). Reacting to the appointments, FLAC Director General Noeline Blackwell said that while the extra staff were very welcome and needed, "the government must provide comprehensive protection for those who are over-indebted. This requires more cooperation between departments and agencies to offer a full range of support to people who are in desperate straits."

FLAC had proposed a strengthening of MABS in its recently published in-depth study on the debt enforcement procedure in Ireland, To No One's Credit. In the report, the organisation calls for appropriate financial and legal information and advice to be available to debtors as early as possible in the debt enforcement process.

The organisation has also recorded a four-fold increase in debt-related calls to its telephone information and referral line and a doubling of visits to its legal advice centres around the country on debt issue between January and June this year over the same period in 2008.

"Taken with the experience of people in our study, the dramatic rise in debt queries shows there is an urgent need for legislators to start taking a broader approach to debt in Ireland. FLAC has proposed a wide-ranging set of recommendations on what can be done to help people in debt - it's now up to the government to make the changes," said Ms Blackwell.


Editors' notes:

  1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all. It campaigns through advocacy, strategic litigation and authoritative analysis to contribute to the eradication of social and economic exclusion.
  2. FLAC's report on debt enforcement in Ireland including the debtor's perspective was launched on 6 July 2009 by singer/songwriter Mary Coughlan. You can contact the FLAC office for a hard copy (for free by collection or for E10 by post) or download the report in PDF format.
  3. The executive summary is available in hard copy from the FLAC office or to download in PDF format.
  4. You can also read a press release on the report launch.