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Irish Water says more than half of households now paying bills

Paul Murphy TD said the anti-water charges movement is still looking good.

Image: Shutterstock/Gyvafoto

Updated at 4.50pm

THE NUMBER OF households that have paid their water charges bill has surpassed the 50% mark.

Irish Water confirmed in a written statement to TheJournal.ie that ”at least” 100,000 new customers have paid their water charges bill for the first time during billing cycle two.

The first billing cycle spanned from January, February and March with 675,000 households paying up.

Irish Water said there are over 1.5 million customers on their books. A total of 775,000 households have therefore paid up to date.

Irish Water said it has yet to conclude its second billing cycle, but said “a trend is emerging whereby customers who paid their first bill have paid their second bill and more customers are paying during the second billing cycle”.

A full update on customer payment levels will be available in a number of weeks when all data is collated from billing cycle two.

The company added that while some customers have opted to move away from direct debit as a payment option, a greater number of customers have opted to use this payment option for their second bill leading to an overall increase in the total number of customers choosing to pay by direct debit.

First cycle results 

Figures from its first cycle were disappointing for the company and government, with just 46% of the charges owed collected during the first three months of the year.

At the time, the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said he was “very, very satisfied” and “very happy” with the figures.

However, those results meant bad news for government as Europe’s statistics agency Eurostat said the troubled utility could not be kept off the government’s balance sheet.

To pass the ‘Eurostat test’ the government had to prove to the agency that half of Irish Water’s revenue came from customers.

In July, Paul Murphy TD described the payment figures as “a massive victory for the anti-water charges movement and for people power”.

He described this as “a major political crisis for the government and a crisis for Irish Water”.

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Today he said he is sceptical of the figures, adding that the anti-water charges movement is still going strong.

Murphy said the information the company is leaving out is how many people have paid their first bill, but have not paid their second bill.

He said the company should now answer the question of how many people paid the first bill, but have passed their pay-by-date for the second bill and have not paid it?

That figure could well be higher than 100,000 – thereby resulting in a falling of payment levels instead of an increase.

“Even if payments are over 50%, it is still a disaster. How is it a positive that the other half have not paid?”

Mini-poll: Have you paid your water charges bill? 

Poll Results:

No, I haven't paid any bills (3822)
I paid both bills (1343)
It doesn't apply to me (401)
I only paid the first bill (333)

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