Non-payers will receive €100 water allowance

A welfare payment to help disadvantaged households to meet the cost of water bills will be paid out regardless of whether or not they are compliant with the charge.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has confirmed the €100 water support payment will be made to 650,000 people in receipt of the fuel allowance or household benefits package irrespective of whether they are required to, or agree to, pay their bills.

She was responding to a written parliamentary question from Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, who asked if customers who do not complete the Irish Water application package are eligible to receive the additional welfare payment.

Ms Burton said they were, adding that the €100 payment would also be made to eligible households who make their own provision for water or sewage through group schemes. “The payment will be €25 paid every three months to approximately 650,000 households at an annual cost of €66m. The payment will be made to all those currently in receipt of either household benefits or fuel allowance.”

However, working households who refuse to return their registration packs are unlikely to benefit from a tax relief worth 20% of their water bills.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said his officials were working closely with other departments and agencies to finalise the operation of the tax relief, which will be worth up to €100.

However, it is envisaged individuals who do not complete the application pack will not be eligible to claim the relief, as the PPS number of the individual will be required in order to process the claims, he said.

Irish Water has had to extend its deadline to return registration forms after more than half of households failed to send them back. Just 750,000 out of 1.5m homes are so far compliant.

A poll published over the weekend showed that 35% of households who have already decided what to do say they will not pay their water bills. The Red C poll found that well over half, or 58% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would not pay and 23% of over-65s.

After budget announcements aimed at easing the burden of the charge failed to quell public anger, Mr Noonan and Ms Burton, as well as Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Public Expenditure Minister, Brendan Howlin, will discuss further measures this week.

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