Legal threat to 700,000 over house charge
FAILURE to pay the household charge by 700,000 families could lead to legal action by local authorities.
The Household Charge Management Authority, the body responsible for collecting the €100 charge, says local authorities will have the power to bring legal proceedings against defaulters.
Local authorities are to start issuing reminders next month to some 700,000 property owners who have yet to pay the €100 household charge.
Figures released yesterday by the Local Government Management Agency show that 924,884 households have so far paid the charge, the deadline for which was March 31.
The 2011 Census found there were more than 1.65 million private households in the State, meaning the rate of payment has been some 56pc to date.
Over 670,000 households have yet to pay, while a further 40,000 have paid fines of between €11 and €13 for registration after the deadline.
The figures show the most compliant local authority regions were Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, with 76.3pc compliance, Kerry, 66.3pc, and Clare, 64.2pc.
The lowest rates of payment were recorded in the Waterford City Council (45.5pc), Offaly Co Council (46.9pc) and Louth Co Council (47.9pc).
The latest figures show that €92.9m has been collected to date, with some €70m less than the overall target.
The controversial charge was introduced by Environment Minister Phil Hogan earlier this year and was intended to replace the exchequer element of the Local Government Fund, set up in 1999.
In 2011, exchequer funding for local authorities was €164m.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said the revenues expected to be generated by the charge had been factored into the allocations provided to local authorities so far this year.
"If there is a shortfall, some sort of reduction will have to be considered," he said.
He added that Finance Minister Michael Noonan had said no alternative funding was available.
The agency said it had started analysing data to identify those who had not yet paid.