Sunday 4 December 2016

Payments by households to Irish Water down 20pc

Published 20/05/2016 | 02:30

No confidence: Barry Cowen. Photo: Tom Burke
No confidence: Barry Cowen. Photo: Tom Burke

Payments to Irish Water dropped by more than €9m in the utility's last billing cycle.

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The drop in revenue collected at the end of March represented a reduction of 20pc when compared to the third quarter of last year.

And the company has revealed how 8,000 of the 200,000 customers who had signed up to pay their water charges by direct debit cancelled their payments. Irish Water has begun sending out its final round of bills, which cover the first three months of this year.

However, it is likely there will be another significant drop in payments given that the Government announced the charges were to be shelved.

The figures suggest that as the result of the general election became clear, many households decided not to pay any more water bills.

The last round of bills was sent in January and February.

In total, €33m was paid to Irish Water in the fourth bill cycle of last year, compared to €42.3m in the third cycle.

Irish Water said while some customers began paying for the first time during the fourth bill cycle, others who paid earlier bills may not yet have paid their fourth bill, "which explains the fall in revenue".

Last year, 975,000 people paid at least one of their water bills, which represents around 64pc of those liable.

However, Irish Water declined to release details for the percentage of customers who are fully paid up to date.

The total amount collected over 2015 was €144m which was 53pc of the total income due from domestic charges in the year.

"Payments received through all payment channels reduced during the month of March," the company said in a statement.

Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Féin's water spokesman, said: "Unfortunately, Irish Water have not provided clarity on the number of customers who paid their water charges during the fourth billing cycle.

"Instead, they have provided cumulative figures. This is clearly an attempt to hide the dramatic drop in the number of people who have stopped paying the controversial charge," he added.

Fianna Fáil spokesman for planning Barry Cowen said that public confidence in Irish Water was deteriorating long before the beginning of 2016.

"It's the clearest sign yet that the water charges regime introduced by the previous government simply did not have the confidence or support of the Irish people," he said.

Irish Independent

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