To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number and amount of water charge refunds paid to date; the plans of Irish Water for further repayments; the purpose to which unspent money will be put; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
In keeping with the spirit of the provisions for the refund of domestic water charges under the Water Services Act 2017, and the earlier recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services on this matter, all reasonable efforts have been made to refund in full relevant domestic Irish Water customers the amounts due to them.
My Department provided funding of €177,535,103 to Irish Water in 2017 to cover the costs involved in issuing a refund to some 995,000 domestic customers of the utility, who paid water charges in full or in part. This included a provision of €5,869,630 in respect of administration costs.
Irish Water has recently reported to my Department that as of 30 April 2018, it has issued cheques to some 951,720 customers at a total value of approximately €166,340,224. Irish Water is continuing to actively encourage remaining customers to provide details necessary to enable payments to be made. This would include customers that have changed address, where the name on the account has changed, accounts that are in the name of 'the Occupier' or 'the Owner', those who have moved abroad without a forwarding address and rental properties where the tenant has moved on.
While there is no cut-off date for the making of refunds, the low level of engagement by the remaining customers to be refunded at this stage suggests that Irish Water may not be able to refund many of these customers.
My Department is currently liaising with Irish Water in relation to the arrangements to close out the funding provision for making refunds and a mechanism will be agreed with Irish Water that will enable it to meet its ongoing liability to relevant customers who seek a refund at a future date.
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