herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Number of households paying their water bills increases to over half

Councillor Noeleen Reilly
Councillor Noeleen Reilly

The number of homes paying their water bills has now passed the half way mark

A total of 51pc of those registered with Irish Water are now paying their bills – up from 43pc when initial results were released earlier this summer.

The figures for water usage over April, May and June mean 100,000 more homes paid their bills than had done so for the first three months of billing, according to the utility.

While the figures will be welcomed by Irish Water and the government, they are still far short of the rate needed to make the company viable.

Government sources have expressed hope the compliance rate will rise to 60pc by the time the general election comes around.

The initial poor figures of 43pc gave fuel to anti-water charges protesters, while Eurostat also cited poor compliance rates as a reason to classify Irish Water on the Government balance sheet earlier this year.

The first billing cycle covered usage for January, February and March and 675,000 households, out of a total of 1.52 million, paid.

HOMES

Irish Water now says the number of homes now paying bills is at least 775,000.

Separately, Irish Water has yet to pay more than €10m to Dublin City Council – some of which it owes since 2013.

The Herald can reveal that DCC have been seeking payment of €10.15m in debts.

A figure of €8.2m is owed for water service projects as of December 2013 when the transfer of responsibility for water services took place.

Meanwhile, a bill of almost €2m is owed for staff costs under the service level agreement and for staff who are seconded to Irish Water.

The majority of the staffing bill (€1.4m) is to be paid for staff working under the agreement, which sees councils compete with private operators to provide water services.

A spokeswoman for the much-criticised utility said that “any suggestion that Irish Water has not met its payment obligations in relation to the items listed for Dublin City Council is incorrect”.

Payment will be made in the coming weeks, the spokeswoman said, as the utility has been working through a process with local authorities.

“Irish Water has already

finalised these details with 14 local authorities, and in 10 of these cases payments were required to be made by Irish Water and these payments were made in the last number of weeks,” she added.

Details of the debts owed to DCC were provided by the council’s chief finance officer, Kathy Quinn, to Sinn Fein councillor Noeleen Reilly at this month’s council meeting.

Ms Reilly described the situation as a “farce”.

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