Sunday 24 February 2019

Irish Water to reissue 15pc of cheques after customer details change

Irish Water says it can re-issue refund cheques to a “nominated person of the account holder” for anyone who does not have a bank (Stock photo)
Irish Water says it can re-issue refund cheques to a “nominated person of the account holder” for anyone who does not have a bank (Stock photo)
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Irish Water told regulators it expects to reissue almost one in seven refunds after people moved address or changed their details.

The utility told the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) that "additional costs" were expected to arise, with up to 15pc of the 990,000 refund cheques likely to be reprinted.

And it has emerged that the State will claw back almost €570,000 from the cost of issuing refunds.

Irish Water allocated almost €570,000 from the €5.8m refund budget for Government stamp duty, which is charged at 50 cent per cheque.

It also set aside almost €13,500 for banking charges.

Last October, the Department of Housing asked the regulator to examine if the costs of refunds proposed by Irish Water were "reasonable".

The regulator said the costs were reasonable, "given the scale, complexity and short timeframe for the project", but said that Irish Water should justify any spending of a €978,272 contingency fund.

The letter reveals Irish Water proposed a total budget of €5.869m.

The costs, inclusive of VAT, included some €1.56m to cover printing and postage; some €554,000 to cover IT and technical costs, including development and testing, another €565,000 for a contact centre to handle customer queries and €400,000 for a communications campaign.

Some 706 radio advertisements were funded, and the company expected that 85pc of its target audience would be reached. "Further spend" may be required, it added.

While noting that the costs appeared reasonable, the regulator said it did not have the opportunity to compare costs against similar projects elsewhere.

"The CRU recommends that Irish Water be required to provide updates to outline progress against budget, and the measures they are taking to ensure cost savings are achieved where possible," it said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News