The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) says that the proposed reorganisation of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) must not result in any diminution or dilution of the valuable services provided by MABS for the many families and individuals which SVP supports.
"Accessibility to MABS services locally must be safeguarded.” said Kieran Stafford, SVP National Vice-President.
Since its formation in 1992, MABS has been working to help people cope with debts and take control of their own finances. With over 25 years of experience, it continues to provide invaluable support and advice to people at a time of great need on a range of debt issues.
A key element of MABS work and factor in its effectiveness, is the face to face and personal service that it can provide through its over 60 locations nationwide, and its 51 local companies and boards.
It is now proposed by the Citizens Information Board (CIB) to restructure MABS into 8 regional companies. While it is stated that clients will receive the same services as before there is no guarantee that changes to services will not occur once MABS is reorganised.
Another key strength and resource of the MABS service is the central role of volunteers and volunteering on their local Boards. There is a real concern that volunteers will become disengaged, and local leadership of their service will disappear.
“Local boards also have a strong organic connection to the local community, including local civil society representatives such as St Vincent de Paul. SVP’s involvement is most obvious in the commitment of its members to voluntarily work within the MABS service and the referrals between SVP and MABS of people who need assistance with budgeting.”, said Mr Stafford.
SVP says that the structural changes under discussion require careful implementation through a sensitive process, and in a way that will honour the role of the thousands of volunteers who helped establish, maintain and provide the MABS service.
It says that there is a need to ensure appropriate resources are available for services locally to manage any implementation plan, and staff and volunteers working in the current services are clear as to their future roles.
Any realignment/consolidation will need to carefully consider potential implications and how the direct change will impact the services provided for people in need of guidance with debt.