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Irish Water

Water charges: Government faces extra costs to pay for €100 household grant

More staff will be needed to manage the household payment, Joan Burton’s department has said.

Updated at 10.40am

THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection will need extra resources to pay for management of the €100 household grant for Irish Water customers, RTÉ News has revealed this morning. 

The broadcaster obtained a letter written by the Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection, under Freedom of Information rules.

In it, the official says Joan Burton’s department will need further resources, including more staff, to manage the payment to Irish Water customers.

The letter to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was written last November, RTÉ reports.

“…resourcing the processing/payment of WCG applications in 2015 and beyond needs to be addressed and cannot be accommodated from within the existing resource/admin budget allocation,” the letter says.

The Secretary General adds that it is “critical that we advance this project quickly”.

Additional funds would be needed to cover the cost of writing to every household in the country, and advertisements telling people how to apply.

New regime

Environment Minister Alan Kelly confirmed last November that every household in the country will be entitled to a €100 rebate from the Department of Social Protection if they sign up with the utility.

The Government’s revised charging scheme was announced in the wake of a series of large-scale public protests.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said she wasn’t surprised at the revelations.

“Every household in the country that is a primary residence — that is people who are renting or people who are homeowners — has an entitlement to apply for this. That’s 1.65 million,” Murphy told Morning Ireland.

“The Government estimates that that 1.3 million households will apply for it. That’s a wider — as they would say themselves — client base than any other social welfare payment, and it was very obvious that there would be a need for extra resources within the department.”

Murphy said the set up of Irish Water had been “an absolute fiasco from beginning to end”.

In a statement, the Department of Social Protection said staff were “still assessing the resource requirements in respect of new initiatives for the payments system and work is ongoing”.

“Dealing with resource requirement issues is a routine feature of Government work. The Department processes approximately 85 million payments a year and anticipates no issues in processing the Water Conservation Grant.”

Junior Minister at the Department Kevin Humphreys said people needed to know how to claim the €100 payment, and that there was nothing unusual about the request from the Secretary General.

“I don’t see any excessive costs in this, but we’re in the process of making sure that we can make that payment in September,” he told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke.

He said that whatever resources were needed would be put in place, and that it would be done as cost-effectively as possible.

Confirmed: Here’s how much you’ll be paying for water – and what happens if you don’t

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