Budgeting advice staff handle just two cases per week
THE State's money advice service cost €16m last year but staff only dealt with an average of two customers per week, a major report from the spending watchdog has claimed.
But the Department of Social and Family Affairs last night disputed the finding, claiming it failed to take account of the 10,945 calls dealt with on the telephone helpline provided by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).
The service, which is provided by 51 companies countrywide, dealt with 16,600 new clients last year who were in need of debt advice and help in making arrangements with creditors.
"Excluding clients seeking information only, the service dealt with 16,600 clients in 2008. This is an average rate of less than two per week per staff member. The cost of dealing with an average case was just less than €1,000," the Comptroller and Auditor General's report said.
But the Department of Social and Family Affairs claimed the figure of 16,600 did not include the 10,945 calls to the service's helpline.
"In addition, MABS staff were continuing to provide assistance and support to their existing claimload of clients. The claimload at the end of 2008 was 25,269," a spokeswoman for the service said.