‘No grant gain for those who didn’t pay water charges’

People who claimed the conservation grant but did not pay water charges will not “gain financially” over households that paid, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

Fianna Fáil have called on the Government to set aside money in October’s Budget for water charge refunds.

While a system for refunds still has to be agreed upon, Mr Varadkar has promised to make sure that “those law-abiding citizens who paid their bills don’t end up financially worse than people who didn’t pay their bills, but still claimed the grant”.

Mr Varadkar added that this is something he feels “very strongly about”.

Some 190,000 people claimed the €100 water conservation grant but did not pay water charges.

Mr Varadkar has now asked his department to cross-check with Irish Water those who received the grant to ensure only people who paid charges would be refunded

This view was echoed by Housing Minister Simon Coveney, who said: “We need to ensure that people are treated fairly, but also that the State is not paying inappropriately, either, so that is why I have always said refunds should be net of the water conservation grant.

“Even though the two were not formally or legally linked, there is clearly a link between the water conservation grant and acceptance of the water-charging system.”

Mr Coveney said he will now be speaking with Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe, and Mr Varadkar to come up with an efficient way of paying people back their money.

“Ultimately, that will be a matter for DPER or Finance to get it right, whether we do it through Revenue or whether we don’t,” said Mr Coveney.

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