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No decision made on who will collect commercial water charges under Irish Water

In 2013, water charges that went uncollected amounted to €16,502,532 in Dublin alone.

UNDER THE CURRENT system if you own a business then you must pay water charges to your local council. Charges for water usage are imposed by local authorities and the money is collected by rate collectors employed by the local authority.

However, changes are coming in how water services are delivered in Ireland under the establishment of Irish Water, making it uncertain as to who will be chasing up the payments from businesses in arrears.

Income generated

In 2013, Dublin City Council collected income from commercial water to the sum of €26,650,000. In 2012, income amounted to €25,642,254, while in 2011 they collected €23,708,148 in commercial water charges.

Currently, Dublin City Council has 14 rate collectors employed in the rates office of the council.

In 2011, water charges that went uncollected amounted to €17,243,779. While in 2012, they amounted to €15,970,773 and in 2013 to €16,502,532. Dublin City Council said that 90 per cent of the 2013 debtor figures refers to water charges for 2013 and 2012.

These figures show the sum of money that the council has been unable to collect from businesses for their use of water. It is believed that once Irish Water takes over the reigns from local authorities, all assets and debts will be passed on to them.

Transfer to Irish Water

Irish Water told TheJournal.ie that they had taken over responsibility for non‐domestic customers in January 2014 with any outstanding December 2013 commercial water debtor balances transferring to Irish Water.

They said that for the first half of this year, local authorities will continue to bill and collect from non‐domestic customers but will do so on behalf of Irish Water. Between July and December 2014, Irish Water will begin to take over the billing and collection of non‐domestic customers directly.

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When asked if Irish Water will have their own in-house rate collectors, like that in local councils, or if they will outsource rate collections to private companies and debt collector companies, Dublin City Council said “details of the collection process will be worked out with the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) in the coming months”.

CER

TheJournal.ie asked the CER what plans were in place for commercial rate collections. They said that Irish Water will collect the rates and said that they will be helping in the regulation and set-up of the tariff structure, adding that it was obviously Irish Water’s incentive to collect the monies due to them.

The said that customer codes of practices would also be drafted, so who will collect the commercial rates may well come under that, they said. They added that “collecting will be an issue for them [Irish Water]“. They said they were level of detail was “not decided yet”.

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