Water Charge Q&A: No penalties for not registering by the ‘deadline’

When is a deadline not necessarily a deadline? Noel Baker picks through the intricacies of Irish Water’s billing process

Water Charge Q&A: No penalties for not registering by the ‘deadline’

Q: So, was yesterday a deadline or not?

A: Not really — kind of. By registering before today you guaranteed that your first Irish Water bill will be for the correct amount. By not registering before today, you are leaving yourself open to being billed the €260 rate.

Q: What are the penalties for not registering?

A: None. Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Irish Water were at pains yesterday to stress that no one will face a penalty for not having registered by yesterday, despite an indication earlier yesterday from Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins that there might be.

Q: What if I register at some point over the next few weeks — am I going to get billed for the wrong amount?

A: Not necessarily, but Mr Kelly said yesterday was an “administrative date” to ensure you get billed the right amount based on the composition of your household and so you can access a water conservation grant. But not registering by yesterday does not mean you are unable to access it.

Q: What happens if I am billed the wrong amount in April?

A: If that happens, Irish Water says you can contact them to inform them of the issue, the bill will be recalculated and you should receive a rebate at the time you receive your second quarterly bill.

Q: What if I decide I won’t bother with any of it?

A: If you fail to make any payments over the first year, a penalty sum of €30 for an one-person household and €60 for all other households will apply to your account.

Q: Fine, but how are they going to retrieve all this money?

A: No one knows for sure at the moment. Mr Kelly will publish proposals at the end of the month on the options, and Elizabeth Arnett, head of communications and corporate services at Irish Water, said it would look at the possibility of using the services of debt collection agencies to “pursue the debt”.

Q: What if I already have a meter installed and the amount I use is actually less than the capped amount?

A: Then you pay the lower figure.

Q: What about the water conservation grant?

A: Mr Kelly said that there would be a deadline later in the summer for that. You must apply separately to the Department of Social Protection for it, having already registered with Irish Water, and then you receive a €100 rebate in September.

Q: So when my bill is due in April, I’ll owe what?

A: A first quarterly payment of €40 for a one adult household, and a first bill of €65 for other households.

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