Breen seeks clarity on Household Charge Letters.

November 6th, 2012 - Pat Breen

Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Clare T.D Pat Breen has today (Tuesday) written to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan T.D. requesting that he seek clarity from the Local Government Management Agency who are charged with administering the Household Charge as to why householders in Clare who have paid the household charge are now receiving letters to provide proof of payment.

“I have been inundated with complaints from householders who have paid the Household Charge and who have now received letters which were sent out by Clare County Council requesting that they provide proof of payment by contacting a Lo Call Number in the Household Charge Bureau.”

“I understand that around 33,000 letters were issued by Clare County Council to households in Clare. I also understand however that Clare County Council issued those letters from a database which was provided by the Local Government Management Agency and that the Local Authority had no way of validating the database. As a result of which, there have been numerous incidents where two and three letters have been sent into one household and while that this very annoying for those households, when letters are received for persons who are deceased it is particularly upsetting for the families involved. In addition, there has been a lot of concern expressed to me that when a householder who is in compliant with the Household Charge does not provide confirmation to the Bureau that they have paid the charge, their household is recorded as unpaid. In the longer term, the fear is that the cost of administering the charge by LGMA will have increased significantly.”

“To compound the problem for householders when they try to ring the dedicated Lo Call Number which is provided to confirm their proof of payment, they cannot get through or they are forced to incur long delays waiting for their calls to be answered.”

“Clare County Council have been to the forefront in ensuring compliance with the Household Charge, however, the backlash which has arisen following the issuing of these letters does little to support the Local Authority in their efforts to collect the charge.”

“I cannot understand why the names and addresses of those who had already paid could not have been matched off by LGMA against the list of names and addresses on this database to make sure that there was no duplication before they sent the list to Clare County Council to issue. This would have avoided all this unnecessary hazzle for household charge compliant householders.

“I have today written to the Environment, Community and Local Government Minister Phil Hogan T.D. requesting that he demand an explanation from the LGMA as to why this has happened. It is not rocket science in my view, this could all have been avoided if the database provided to Clare County Council was checked correctly and I want to know why this was not done.”