Hogan says local authorities will be central to pursuing non-payers over household tax

 

MINISTER FOR the Environment Phil Hogan last night reiterated that the Government was determined to pursue all householders over payment of the €100 household charge and confirmed that local authorities would have a central role in pursuing those who had not paid to date for arrears and penalties.

Mr Hogan said more than 900,000 people had registered for the charge, and thanked those who had signed up to pay.

He added that, over the coming weeks, data protocols would be put in place to allow the Local Government Management Agency to draw up a comprehensive database.

Mr Hogan said the data protocols would allow the agency to contact State utility providers as well as the Land Registry and the Property Management Act to enable a thorough cross-checking to take place of those who had registered and paid to date and those who had failed to register.

The details will then be forwarded to the local authorities and notifications will be sent out to those who have yet to pay, reminding them of their obligation to pay in the same way as people are notified of their requirement to pay the charge for their TV licence, he said.

“Local authorities will become very involved in following up people – we will be writing to people in due course to let them know of their obligation to pay, just like the TV licence.

“It will be brought to their attention that they must pay and that it’s not going away and they are better off paying sooner rather later.”

Mr Hogan was speaking in Waterford prior to addressing the Local Authority Members’ Association annual conference, where he was subjected to protests from about 60 protesters against the household charge who greeted him upon his arrival at the Tower Hotel.

Gardaí had set up crush barriers to keep back the protesters but a group of about 20 Fine Gael councillors attending the conference formed a protective phalanx inside the Garda cordon to shield Mr Hogan from the protesters who waved placards in his face.

Mr Hogan seemed unperturbed by the protest, smiling as he was escorted through the corridor of protesters.

“It wasn’t a typical response for a Kilkenny man coming to Waterford. I know there was a small number of people and they are entitled to protest, but I am a democrat and the people here, the councillors, are democrats – they are trying to provide services for people.

“People know in these financial circumstances they must make a financial contribution for local services, and notwithstanding the fact that people are under pressure, over 900,000 people in this country have prepared to comply with the law – unlike the people outside,” he said.

Addressing 180 delegates, Mr Hogan said it was clear from the experience of the household charge that many public representatives did not want the responsibility of putting in place and securing new local funding for their local authorities.

“We will never have an effective system of local governance without the necessary leadership at local level in order to make the real leap to a true system of local government as opposed to one of local administration,” he said.

Speaking earlier in Kilkenny, Mr Hogan said the Government was considering measures which could see householders who do not register for the €100 household charge being refused tax clearance certificates for 2013.