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Households with undrinkable water could be in line for a bigger discount

Irish Water has also defended asking customers for their PPS numbers.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 10.55pm

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER ALAN Kelly has said households on long-term boil water notices could be in line for a bigger discount when water charges kick next month.

In his first speech of the new Dáil session last night, Kelly referred to proposals by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which would give some households with undrinkable water a full discount on the “water supply” part of their bill.

If confirmed when the water charges plan is published shortly, as such “any customers that have a Boil Water Notice or a Drinking Water Notice three months prior to the commencement of water charges on 1st October 2014, will not pay for their water supply.”

From 1 October, households will be billed for two separate services: water supply – effectively drinking water – and waste water disposal – effectively, toilets and showers.

Significantly, the minister noted that:

The CER proposals are more favourable to the customer than the proposals submitted by the Irish Water, who had sought that the 100% discount should only apply where the period involved is over six months.

Under both the CER and Irish Water proposals, affected households would not be eligible for any discount on waste water disposal.

Medical conditions

Separately, the government is expected to give a final decision next week on water allowances for people with specific medical conditions.

Irish Water spokesperson Elizabeth Arnett said this morning: “We’re asking people to say if they believe they are eligible.”

It is understood that process amounts to individuals “ticking a box” on an application, to which Irish Water would respond.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Arnett said no decision had been made yet as to whether Irish Water would be “checking the veracity” of medical claims, but that they would await the results of consultations by the Departments of Health and Environment.

Where a medical condition is accepted as requiring higher than usual water consumption, Arnett said affected households would be capped at the assessed charge – meaning they will pay no more than the average bill for a household of that size.

PPS numbers

The spokesperson also defended Irish Water’s decision to request PPS numbers from customers, saying it was designed to ensure households received the allowances they were entitled to.

Customers are eligible for a €100 allowance per child, and €150 per household, and Irish Water are authorised under the legislation to ask for PPS numbers, Arnett added.

There have been widespread privacy concerns over the request, but the Taoiseach last night parried questions on the subject, saying that Irish Water would answer all such questions when its “full communication system” had been established.

First published 9.11am

Read: Here’s what the Taoiseach has to say about Irish Water and your PPS number>

Councillor rips up Irish Water form in meeting, urges people not to pay>

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Dan MacGuill

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