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Irish Water 'may not be able to refund' more than 43,000 customers who paid water charges

€177 million was provided to Irish Water last year to refund to some 995,000 domestic customers, that included €5 million in administration costs.

MORE THAN €11 million has still not been paid out from the Irish Water refunds allowance, leaving more than 43,000 customers still to be refunded, but the government says the utility “may not be able to refund many of these customers”.

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government said €177,535,103 was provided to Irish Water last year to cover the costs involved in issuing a refund to some 995,000 domestic customers of the utility.

The vast majority of the €177.5 million provided to Irish Water for refunds has been returned to paying customers, but 43,280 households have still to be refunded.

“All reasonable efforts have been made to refund in full relevant domestic Irish Water customers the amounts due to them,” according to Eoghan Murphy, who added that the €177.5 million figure included a provision of €5,869,630 for 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.”

Speaking about the outstanding money owed to 43,280 customers, he said:

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.

When asked if any of the outstanding 43,280 customers are in the process of being paid, a spokesperson for Irish Water told TheJournal.ie, “Some complex cases have taken a bit longer.

“Irish Water is continuing to issue cheques and engage with customers as part of the refund process.

There may be a small percentage of customers who have moved abroad or passed away and who will never seek a refund but the allocation is there and will remain available to them or their estate.

She added that this also includes people who might have had second properties or people who changed their name through marriage or divorce.

“There was also a significant cohort of incomplete addresses, that work is still all ongoing.”

Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien asked the Housing Minister how the leftover money will be spent.

Murphy said his department is 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”.

However he added that “Irish Water is continuing to actively encourage remaining customers to provide details necessary to enable payments to be made.”

The Irish Water spokesperson said, “Any customer who believes that they are entitled to a refund and has yet to receive it should contact Irish Water on 1850 448 448.”

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