Irish Water to post refund cheques by end of the year

Government keen to draw line under water-charges controversy

Irish Water: about a million households will benefit from the refunds, which will be for up to €325

Irish Water: about a million households will benefit from the refunds, which will be for up to €325

 

Irish Water is expected to post refund cheques by the end of the year to all customers who paid their charges, as the Government seeks to draw a line under the long-running controversy.

The approach was discussed by senior officials on Friday, and a memo is expected to go to the Cabinet next week.

Sources disclosed that the Government wants to refund €170 million in water charges with as little fuss and as quickly as possible. Leo Varadkar indicated during the Fine Gael leadership campaign that he would repay the fees this year and repeated the pledge when he took over as Taoiseach.

The Cabinet is expected to sign off on the plan at its first meeting after the summer recess, next Wednesday, but the process will require legislation that will have to be agreed with Fianna Fáil.

The laws are not expected to be passed until later in the autumn, with cheques posted to customers before Christmas.

Refunds of up to £325

About a million households will benefit from the refunds, which will be for up to €325, and entirely separate from the €100 water-conservation grant that the Department of Social Protection paid to households that registered with Irish Water. The State is not expected to try to recoup those payments.

A number of options for refunding the water charges were considered, among them reimbursing customers via their original payment method, such as direct debit or at a post office.

Under the Government plan the cheques will be posted to the person who paid the bill at the address Irish Water has on record. Anyone who has moved house since then will need to contact the semi-State company.

The announcement of the refunds by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is intended to kick-start the new political term.

It will be the first in a phase of Government announcements, to be followed by Mr Murphy’s revised strategy on tackling the housing sector and by the budget in October.