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Household charge: Nearly 9,000 payments per hour needed to meet next Friday’s deadline

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More than 3,000 people protested against the household charge at Dublin’s National Stadium over the weekend. The event was organised by the
Campaign against Household and Water Taxes

More than 3,000 people protested against the household charge at Dublin’s National Stadium over the weekend. The event was organised by the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes

More than 3,000 people protested against the household charge at Dublin’s National Stadium over the weekend. The event was organised by the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes

ALMOST 9,000 families will have to register an hour to pay the €100 household charge if next Saturday's deadline is to be met.

Some 1.3 million households have yet to pay the charge -- and are facing the prospect of fines and a possible day in court if they fail to pay on time.

The Government is hoping that hundreds of thousands of homeowners will register over the next six days.

After that, those who haven't paid will be targeted at home and reminded to pay by teams of local authority staff.

But there is still confusion in government circles about how people can pay the controversial tax.

A senior minister yesterday described the deadline date as "ambitious" and said an "easier" payment system should have been put in place.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton also mistakenly said arrangements were being put in place to allow people to pay the charge at their local post office.

That claim was subsequently denied by both the Department of the Environment and An Post.

"The Post Office is a very appropriate mechanism (for payment)," Ms Burton told RTE.

"I think it's taken quite a while to set up the mechanics and March 31 is probably an ambitious target date. If they can, people should actually pay. Next year and the year after we will have brought in a better system which will be fairer.

"The Government has set out the law and I'm hoping there's as much facilitation given as possible. People want to pay but the payments system should have been easier from the start. The tax had to be set up in a very short period and maybe that's been the problem."

Just 20pc of all households, or 328,201, had paid the charge by close of business last Friday. Some 66,638 properties have registered to pay in the last week.

There is a backlog of postal payments which have yet to be processed, but the number is unknown.

Some 1.6 million households are eligible to pay the charge. This means that 1.27 million must pay before Saturday's deadline -- almost 212,000 a day, or 8,800 an hour.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Phil Hogan last night insisted that even with a late surge in numbers, the computer system to process payments would cope.

"The system is built with this in mind. It was always envisaged there would be a late surge," she said.

Around 100 local authority offices around the country will also be open next weekend to allow people pay the charge.

The Government has insisted that the deadline will not be extended.

But opponents have insisted that the public will not pay the charge, with more than 3,000 attending a rally on Saturday in Dublin, organised by the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes.

Thousands are also planning to disrupt the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin next Saturday.

A late payment fee of €10 will apply if the charge is paid within six months, €20 between six and 12 months and €30 if the payment is 12 months late.

Households will also be given just two warnings -- one verbal, followed by a written warning -- before legal action is taken.

Irish Independent