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expect a cheque

Confirmed: Irish Water to refund water charges to customers by Christmas

The refunds will be sent automatically – by cheque.

Updated at 2.25pm 

ALMOST ALL CUSTOMERS will be refunded the full amount of the water charges they paid before the end of the year, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has confirmed.

The issue was discussed at the first Cabinet meeting after the summer break today.

Before the summer, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the government would begin refunding water charges by the autumn.

In order for refunds to be issued, legislation must first be approved. Following this, Irish Water is to roll out an information campaign in a bid to advise homeowners about the process of getting their money back.

What do I need to do?

Some 990,000 customers of Irish Water will receive payments under the process, Murphy’s department confirmed today.

According to a statement:

Domestic water services account holders with Irish Water will be automatically refunded by the utility, by way of a cheque. There is no application process involved. Customers only need to contact Irish Water if their details require updating.

The department also provided answers to a number of likely FAQs:

Who exactly will be refunded?

The named holders of Irish Water customer accounts for which charges were paid will be refunded.

When will customers get refunds?

It is expected that almost all customers will be refunded before the end of the year. Exceptional cases will be processed in Quarter 1 2018. Customers will be able to check the progress of their refund online. 

How will customers be refunded?

To avoid fraud, ensure refunds go directly to the account holder, and to make the process as efficient as possible, customers will be refunded by cheque. Though a small number paid by direct debit, the minister said it is more cost efficient to send a refund by cheque.

What do customers need to do?

Customers do not need to do anything at this stage. Irish Water will run an information campaign that will inform customers on the next steps. There is no application process involved. Customers only need to contact Irish Water if their details require updating, such as if they changed address.

When will customers get further information?

Irish Water’s information campaign is expected to begin shortly.

Will all paid domestic water charges be refunded?

Yes, all domestic water charges paid in relation to primary dwellings and not permanently occupied dwellings will be refunded to customer account holders.

Will the Water Conservation Grant be deducted from people’s refunds?

No. The Water Conservation Grant was a standalone, separate grant for all households whether Irish Water customers or not. Its aim was to support conservation in the home and was distinct from domestic water charges, according to the minister. Therefore, the grant is not being deducted from refunds.

When will the new ‘excessive usage water charge’ kick-in?

People’s water usage will be monitored for a 12 month period, starting in 2018. Those people who have been deemed by the company to be using a wasteful amount of water above the excessive amount will then be notified at the beginning of 2019.

They will be given a six month notice period by which they can reduce their use. If they haven’t reduced their usage, they will then be charged for excessive wasteful usage for that six month period, with the first charge being levied in July 2019. 

water The charging regime was massively unpopular.

The water charges regime was scrapped following a process set up in the wake of last year’s general election under the confidence and supply arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

In total, €173 million is due to be refunded, with administration of the refunds to cost at least €5 million, according to the minister. A contingency of €1 million has also been set aside.

Murphy said the water conservation grant of €100, which householders could claim, “was not linked to Irish Water charges” and the data bases are not held by the same agency.

The Oireachtas committee set up to examine the issue of water published its final report in April of this year.

Although a plan to charge for water was initially proposed by the last Fianna Fáil government, it was introduced under the Fine Gael-Labour coalition. A massive campaign of protest against the charges meant the issue dominated the final few years of that government.


“The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services recommended equal treatment between those who have paid their water charges to date and those who have not,” Murphy said in his statement.

“In keeping with the Government’s commitment to implement the committee’s recommendations, the Government will include a provision for refunds in forthcoming legislation, which it is intended to publish shortly.”

“Funding certainty” for Irish Water would be provided, Murphy said – adding that    greater water conservation “will also be achieved through ongoing improvements by Irish Water in parallel with the curbing of water wastage by customers and greater public awareness”.

- With reporting by Daragh Brophy

Read: Don’t worry, Paschal has found the money to refund your water charges>

Read: The Government plans to start refunding water charges from autumn>

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