FLAC: Debt Advice and Information Services must be protected from budget cuts
4 November 2010
The latest statistics from MABS, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, reveal that the average waiting time for a first-time appointment in some areas is now over two months. In addition, waiting times for people seeking an appointment with a solicitor at state funded Legal Aid Board are 3 months or more in 27 of its 31 Law Centres around the country.
FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres, which runs an information line and network of centres across the country, has experienced a sustained increase in the numbers of callers with debt-related problems.
Noeline Blackwell, Director General of FLAC, said:
"Access to information and advice is critical in tackling financial problems. The longer a person has to wait, the more serious and difficult the problems become. Though budgetary cuts are inevitable, the provision of timely, appropriate and well-resourced advice services must be protected".
Between January and October of this year, FLAC received 1,590 calls where debt has been the primary or secondary issue for the caller. This represents approximately one call in every five to FLAC's information line.
"With the cuts expected in the upcoming Budget, more and more people will require the services provided by organisation such as MABS, it is essential that adequate funding and resources are provided," concluded Ms Blackwell.
1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation which works to promote equal access to justice for all. It runs a lo-call telephone information line giving general legal information to the public and it supports a network of evening FLAC clinics around Ireland where volunteer solicitors give first stop legal advice to people who need it and cannot afford legal representation.
2. The Money Advice and Budgeting Service's latest statistics are available at http://www.mabs.ie/publications/STATS/Stats_index.html