Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Mr. Eoghan Murphy T.D. has confirmed that once water services legislation providing for refunds is enacted, expected in the autumn, refunds of domestic water charges can and will commence.
Almost all customers will be refunded the full amount they paid before the end of the year. Some 990,000 customers of Irish Water are due to receive payments under this process. 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.
Speaking following the Government meeting, Minister Murphy said: “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.
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. Subject to the passage of this legislation, Irish Water will begin an information campaign to inform customers and the public on how the refunds process will work.”
Minister Murphy added: “Whilst the refunding of Irish Water customers forms part of the process of addressing the issue of domestic water charges, the issue of funding domestic water services must also be addressed. I am confident that the future funding framework for water services, to be implemented once legislation is enacted, will provide funding certainty for Irish Water. 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.”
The Minister added that equal treatment between Irish Water customers and those on group water schemes will be maintained by retaining the restored pre-2015 subsidy levels for group water schemes.
In a statement, Irish Water said: “Irish Water’s primary concern is that the payment of refunds is as straightforward as possible from a customer point of view and that those who made a payment to Irish Water are refunded with a minimum of delay, once Government has passed the legislation and provided the funding needed to allow for refunds.
Almost 1m customers will be repaid their domestic water charges totalling €173m. The cost of refunding customers will be approximately €5m to cover the cost of letters, cheques, a public information campaign and additional staffing to support the project including additional call centre staff to deal with customer queries.
We are now putting a team in place to begin this work and we will communicate with customers advising them what they need to do to ensure their refund is paid correctly as soon as the legislation is passed.
Customers do not need to contact Irish Water to get their refund. Irish Water will send a cheque to the account holder at their address. If you have moved or if your personal details have changed please call 1850 448 448.
The department has provided the following guidelines regarding the refunds.
Why are customers being refunded?
In April, the Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services recommended adherence to the principle of equity of treatment for those who have paid and have not paid their water charges. The Oireachtas has approved the committee’s report. In this context, the Government will include a provision in forthcoming legislation to refund water charges.
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.
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.
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.
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. Therefore, the grant is not being deducted from refunds.