Monday 19 November 2018

Irish Water is hiring a debt collection agency

Irish Water has begun a tendering process to hire a debt collector.
Irish Water has begun a tendering process to hire a debt collector.
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Just three months on from the suspension of water charges Irish Water is now looking to hire a debt collection company.

The State agency has put out a tender for a firm to start collecting debts owed to it by businesses across the country.

The tender also details the possibility of extending its responsibilities to include the collection of domestic debt, however this is unlikely to occur until the end of the suspension on the charges next year.

Read more: Water charges still toxic enough to bring down this Government

A description of the opportunity on the eTenders website reads as follows:

"Provision of legal debt collection services to Irish Water including : • debt collection proceedings in the District, Circuit and High Court for the recovery of overdue non-domestic customer debt for water and waste water charges including ancillary services • debt collection legal services • option to extend services to include debt collection proceedings in the District, Circuit and High Court for the recovery of overdue domestic water and waste water charges."

Irish Water will close the application process for the tender, which is separated into three lots, on November 9.

The tender is broken up based on location with each lot representing a region. Lot one covers the Connaught and Ulster region, Lot two covers the 'Southern' region, while lot three covers the Eastern and Midlands region.

Read more: Irish Water costs 'significantly higher' than in other utilities

Irish Water issued the following response on the tender: "An independent expert commission has been set up to make recommendations on a sustainable long-term funding model for the delivery of household water and wastewater services by Irish Water.

"The commission’s recommendations will then be reviewed by an Oireachtas committee before a vote in the Dail takes place. Until that time Irish Water will not issue any bills or reminders to domestic customers during the suspension period. Domestic customers remain liable for balances due on any bills issued to date and Irish Water continues to accept payment and to deal with any billing queries.

""As part of the migration of non-Domestic water accounts from Local Authorities, Irish Water will also take over responsibility for the management of credit and collections.

While procuring for non-domestic debt recovery, Irish Water has taken the precautionary measure of including the recovery of domestic debt in the tender to avoid the possibility of having to make an additional procurement pending decisions by the government."

The news comes after the water regulator was ordered to reduce its costs by 20pc because they are significantly more expensive than comparable utilities.

Water charges has been a long running dispute amongst Irish taxpayers and political parties. Its introduction led to major protest across cities and towns and has caused arguments between Government.

In September, Taoiseach Enda Kenny rounded on Fianna Fáil for calling on an outright ban on water charges.

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