Less than half apply for water grant as deadline nears

Helpline to operate extended hours ahead of Thursday’s cut-off for conservation grant

Lead piping excavated from a driveway in Sandymount, Dublin last August after it ruptured causing a leak. Photograph: Frank Miller.

Lead piping excavated from a driveway in Sandymount, Dublin last August after it ruptured causing a leak. Photograph: Frank Miller.

 

Less than half of those eligible for the water conservation grant which has been linked to controversial water charges have applied, despite a fast-approaching deadline.

The Department of Social Protection is processing the €100 grant, and its latest figures show just under 600,000 households have applied for the grant. The deadline for applications is this Thursday.

Starting in August, the department issued more than 1.3 million letters inviting people to apply for the grant but more than 700,000 households have yet to do so and unless they act quickly they will miss out.

Online applications can be made at watergrant.ie, and the site will remain live until midnight on October 8th.

A Government spokeswoman said a special helpline would operate extended opening hours up to and including the closing date. She said there had been “a steady volume of inquiries” last week .

Meanwhile, the volume of calls being made directly to Irish Water has increased by 200 per cent over the past week as the deadline for applying for the grant nears.

While the grant is processed by the Department of Social Protection, almost half the calls to Irish Water last week were from anxious users trying to find details of their account numbers without which they cannot make the application.

Account numbers

She said that in order to deal with a greater than normal volume of calls, it had added a further 30 staff to its call centre.

The company also reported that a leak detection scheme, which has been operating since March has revealed the porous state of the infrastructure. It said leaks causing an estimated 18 million litres of purified water to drain out of the system every day had been detected.

By the end of August, Irish Water’s meters had identified 50,000 leaks on customer properties throughout the State.

It has written to more than 35,000 of those customers alerting them to a potential leak on their property. They have to bear the burden of repairs themselves.