Water customers must also register with department

Grants to be paid in September by Department of Social Protection

People registered with Irish Water will also have to register with the Department of Social Protection if they want to receive a water conservation grant of € 100.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Ministers approved the process by which households receive the €100 grant.

In order to be eligible, people must register with Irish Water by June 30th this year. In order to receive it, Irish Water customers will then have to register with the Department of Social Protection before August.

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A Government spokesman said the registration could be made either online or by phone.

Customers will be asked to supply details of their unique Irish Water customer number, bank account information, and their PPS numbers.

Once that has been done, the €100 grant will be paid automatically into their accounts by the department in September.

As the department issues PPS numbers should be no issues around the sharing of personal data.

The department will not share PPS details with Irish Water.

A department spokesman said on Wednesday the reason it will handle the payment of the conservation grant is that it has wide experience of dealing with huge volumes of payments. The department processes about 85 million payments per year.

The spokesman said it will be user friendly and the process will be straightforward and easy to follow.

For older customers less comfortable with using computers, the application can be made through dedicated phone lines.

Last week, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said the €100 grant, which will be paid to households registered with Irish Water, could be used to buy water conservation devices, such as water butts to recycle water, water displacement devices to reduce water flow in toilets, or aerators to reduce water flow from taps.

Mr Kelly also said the grant can also be used towards repairing a household plumbing system, to reduce water leakage.

There is no obligation on any household to spend the grant on specific water conservation devices or work.

Mr Kelly said the final date of June 30th for payments was chosen to take account of the fact that there will be some changes in residency up to that point.

Stronger compliance measures, promised by Mr Kelly, were not dealt with at the Cabinet meeting. It is likely they will be discussed at the next meeting of Ministers which will take place in a fortnight’s time.

The proposed measures signal a ramping up of pressure by Government to ensure that householders pay water charges.

Under these measures, Irish Water will be able to deduct water bills directly from wages and welfare payments.

The introduction of attachment orders, especially in relation to welfare payments, has not met with universal approval within the Government parties and there have been discussions in recent weeks around these issues.

Sources said on Tuesday the differences over the application of the tougher compliance measures were minor and technical in nature, and had led to no differences within Cabinet or the Coalition.

The thinking behind the campaign is to create a robust compliance regime that would give those householders who pay their bills reassurance that those who refuse to pay will not escape sanction.

* This article was edited on Wednesdsay, April 1st, 2015

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times