Children and dead people get letters for house charge
CHILDREN and dead people have been sent letters reminding them to pay the household charge.
Householders were shocked to receive the letters in recent days asking them to pay the charge, which will be used to help shore up local authority finances.
Wicklow Council Council, which sent correspondence to 23,000 households at a cost of some €12,000, could not confirm that children and the deceased had received the letters, but admitted that "errors" may have occurred.
Letters were also sent to people who had already paid.
Some householders told local radio stations they had received two reminder letters on the same day, addressed to different people residing in the house, while in at least one instance the letter was sent to a deceased person. In some cases, both owners of the house were sent the letter. Wicklow town Councillor John Snell said there were a "lot of angry people out there".
"My phone has been hopping all week after the local authority sent thousands of letters," said the Sinn Fein councillor.
"My wife got a letter on Monday and I got a letter on Wednesday.
"I've been told that people who have passed away received the letters, people who have already paid and children."
In a statement, the council said the letters had been sent out as part of a national campaign to collect outstanding amounts due in respect of the charge.
Just over one million homeowners have paid the €100 tax, with some 700,000 yet to pay.
"The reminder letters pointed out that due to the process of matching different databases, some errors may have occurred," the council said.
"As a result, recipients were asked to contact the central bureau in Dublin to verify his/her details in order to facilitate the updating of the databases."
It is understood that the database used to identify non-compliant households had been sent by the Local Government Management Agency, charged with collecting the tax, to the local authority.
The database may have included details of homeowners who had passed away since it was last updated, and included details of children who lived in the property, sources said.
As the database was provided by an outside agency, the council did not have control of the details of households.