Half of Irish households have registered details with Irish Water
Irish Water sets February 2nd registration deadline to ensure accurate water bills in April
Anti-water-charge protesters demonstrating in Dublin on Saturday. There was one arrest during more than 20 protests against water charges aroundthe country. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Just over half of the households expected to pay bills to Irish Water have registered their details with the new utility.
The latest figures from Irish Water show that nearly 850,000 homes have provided their details out of the estimated 1.5 million customers who will receive their first water bills in April.
A statement from Irish Water said 1.065 million households had registered their details with Irish Water.
“Approximately 79 per cent of those are on the public water main and therefore customers of Irish Water. This represents over 56 per cent of the total customer base,” the statement said.
Irish Water has set a deadline of midnight tonight for registration to ensure people receive accurate water bills in April. There is no penalty for not registering by this time, but the default rate of €260 will apply to households with no confirmed details.
About 35,000 households returned their registration packages with no details, according to the water company.
An estimated 400,000 households will not be required to pay bills because they have private wells and septic tanks.
All households, including those who are not Irish Water customers, are eligible to apply for the water conservation grant of €100, but they need to register with the utility in order to qualify.
The Department of Social Protection has set aside a budget of €130 million to pay for the €100 water conservation grant – equivalent to paying the fee to 1.3 million households.
The Department of Environment has confirmed to The Irish Times that there is no deadline for households to apply for this grant, which will be paid from September.
“There are no plans currently to introduce a cut-off date,” a spokesman from the Department of Environment said, adding that the budget allocation was based on the 2011 census and feedback from other “demand-led schemes”.
The spokesman said the grant applied only to principal residencies, and if applications exceeded the 1.3 million estimate these would be paid. “Every household who applies and is eligible for the water conservation grant will receive it.”
The total number of households in the State, according to the 2011 Census, was 1.66 million.
The Department of Social Welfare said: “The grant will be paid to the registered householders annually in respect of their primary dwellings, with the first payment to be paid in September 2015 and each subsequent year up to and including 2018.”
An Irish Water spokeswoman said: “We’re anticipating we’ll have a high level compliance in terms of payment, but we do have means at our disposal to add charges.”
Irish Water will use the Revenue Commissioner’s local property database to send out bills to those who do not register their details.
The spokeswoman said the company’s focus next month would be properties owned by landlords. “It’s not the landlord’s bill; it’s the tenant’s bill because they are using the service,” she said.
There has been a surge in phone calls to their help line in the last week, with an average of 5,000 a day, up from 1,500 before Christmas.
She said there were no queues or backlogs, and the numbers were much lower than the 25,000 calls received daily in October.
The spokeswoman said 569,000 water meters had been installed to date, out of a planned total of 1.03 million.