Total registered for household levy now 832,000

 

MORE THAN 832,000 property owners have registered or paid the household charge, according to tallies from the Local Government Management Agency yesterday evening.

The figure includes 106,000 postal applications yet to be processed, 82,175 made to local authority offices, and 13,833 applications for a waiver.

Local authorities around the State yesterday said they were waiting for information from the agency to indicate what level of compliance had been achieved in their own counties.

With most of the payments being made online, the majority of city and county councils said it was not possible to determine compliance rates for their areas.

However, Fingal County Council said it understood that its rates of payment were the third-highest in the State after Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City Council.

Just under 50 per cent of those liable in Fingal had paid the charge by the March 31st deadline, with €4.25 million paid over by residents of the north Dublin local authority.

“Fingal has the third highest rate of compliance with the charge in the country with 42,500 households or just fewer than 50 per cent of those liable having paid by the March 31st deadline,” county manager David O’Connor said.

He said he saw the payment level as a “vote of confidence” in the council as a local service provider and the council would “do our best to work with those who have not yet paid to help them to do so”.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county manager Owen Keegan said while he did not have a final figure, he was confident when the backlog was dealt with somewhere between 65 per cent and 75 per cent of households would have paid.

At the other end of the scale payment rates were at low levels in Donegal County Council. The council’s director of finance services, Gary Martin, told RTÉ radio yesterday it appeared only 25 per cent of those liable had paid.

There was a “substantial element of protest” associated with this rate, Mr Martin said.

“I think there has been a substantial anti-payment campaign reflected in Donegal from the very early days of this year with regard to the payment of the charge and that clearly has had an impact on the numbers that have paid on the ground.”

While other counties had collated numbers of households which had paid, they said they had no way of knowing what percentage of those liable this represented.

Laois County Council had received payments for 8,385 properties. Limerick City Council had received payments for 7,548 properties and, like Laois, this figure did not include postal payments still being processed. By yesterday morning Kilkenny County Council had logged 11,294 payments.

Disputes continue over the number of households liable for the charge. Chief executive of the Local Government Management Agency Paul McSweeney said there was no way of knowing how many were liable because of how the system of waivers and exemptions had been devised.

Those who don’t have to pay fall into two categories: households entitled to waivers because they are living in certain categories of “ghost estate” or are entitled to mortgage interest supplement; and those entitled to exemptions such as people who have had to move into a nursing home or those whose properties are held in trust. Households must apply for a waiver, but those who are exempt do not have to register.

“Because you don’t have to register as exempt we don’t know what that number is; possibly no one will ever know what that number is,” he said.