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Number of people who have paid their water bills revealed

Number of people who have paid their water bills revealed

Just under half of all Irish Water customers have paid their bills.

It is understood that just 45pc of the company’s 1.5 million customers - or just under 700,000 people - have paid their first bill on time, which will put severe pressure on the utility to fund improvements to the network.

The company expected to collect just under €67m from domestic customers in the first billing cycle, which covered the period January to March.

However, it is understood that just over €30m has been paid to date. The payment figures will be published later today.

The low payment rate will come as a severe disappointment to the Government which believed that the water controversy had largely been addressed through changes to the system introduced last last year.

The new system imposed an annual cap on bills, ranging from €160 to a single-adult household to €260 to families with two or more adults. Children are free.

However, a concerted campaign of opposition appears to have borne fruit. The figures suggest that despite more than 1.35 million people registering with Irish Water, the payment rates are well below expectations.

One source described them as “disappointing”. However, Government sources insisted that Irish Water was sufficiently funded for the near future, and that payment levels to date were a “decent start”.

The low payment rates will place severe pressure on the coalition in the run-up to the General Election, with the issue of water charging expected to take centre stage.

It will also force Irish Water to engage with registered customers in an effort to improve payment rates.

Paul Melia