Fears have been raised that unless funding is immediately restored to Limerick’s Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) hundreds of people in financial difficulty could be at risk of losing their homes.
The Citizen’s Information Bureau (CIB), which funds MABS as an agent of the Department of Social Protection, has suspended funding to the Limerick service claiming that it is “non-compliant”.
But the hand-to-mouth funding system on which MABS survives means that money to pay staff and bills runs out at the end of this month, leaving seven staff out of a job and up to 192,000 clients in financial distress without advice or support.
The situation came to light this week when business consultant Daire O’Criodain, who is voluntary chairperson of the Limerick MABS board, told The Limerick Post that funding had been suspended and he feared it would not be restored in time to save the service.
“If the board knew what the details of the alleged non-compliance are, we would address them but we haven’t been given a single current incidence”.
Mr O’Criodain said he became involved as a volunteer in a reconstructed board last January. “There were, for a variety of reasons, times when reports were not returned on time but we have tackled that issue and are now current on everything and there is a plan in place which ensures that reports will be timely in the future.
“There is not one single suggestion that there has been any financial wrongdoing on the part of anyone involved with MABS.
UNITE, the union which represents the MABS staff, has called on Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar to intervene.
In a statement to The Limerick Post, UNITE regional officer Ed Thompson said: “The announcement that Limerick MABS funding has been suspended has caused significant concern not only for our members who staff the service, but also for the users who depend on this vital service – many of whom are already engaging in a process with MABS.”
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