Wednesday 13 December 2017

Household charge bill shambles



WEXFORD home owners who have paid the controversial Household Charge are now being asked to prove that they made the payment.

Due to a mix-up between data supplied online and information on public records, Wexford County Council has been forced to send out hundreds of letters asking people to verify that they actually paid the money.

One woman who paid the charge before the deadline, was incensed to receive a letter this week telling her she may be liable for payment.

The letter informed her that names and addresses entered online may not match data held in public records.

To avoid getting any more letters, she was asked to contact a Central Bureau to verify her details. She rang the number and outlined her payment reference number.

'A woman on the other end of the phone told me they were getting loads of calls and all they could do was apologise,' she said.

'What infuriates me is that the Government is imposing this €100 charge on everyone but they set up a call centre at taxpayers' expense and spend all this money on sending out letters to people who have already paid.'

When contacted about the renewed demands, Annette O'Neill, Head of Finance at Wexford County Council said the Local Government Management Agency is trying to track down householders who haven't paid the charge and this involves matching public records from various sources as provided for in the Household Charge legislation.

'People themselves may have variations on names and addresses on public records held for them. It is this non-match that is causing the issue of reminders being sent to householders who have already paid,' she said.

Ms. O' Neill said that if people telephone the Central Bureau in Dublin quoting the payment reference number, the information can be linked to avoid further letters being sent out.

'It is not a fault with the system. It's just a matter of the different national public records having variations in the name and address details for some properties,' she said.

'This is a national charge which needs a national approach to improve compliance levels and where such errors occur it is regrettable but those who have paid can be assured they have nothing to worry about.'

Ms. O' Neill said the positive side is that this exercise is one of many 'enormous efforts' being made nationally to track all householders who have not paid the charge.

'And while there may be slight inconvenience to those who have paid they will appreciate that every effort is being made on their behalf to ensure full complaiance with the charge,' she said.

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