Irish Water has confirmed it has received less than half of the water charge payments due in its first billing cycle, but says the payment rate “represents a solid start”.
€30.5m was received by the utility, amounting to 46% of the €66.8m that was due to the utility.
Elizabeth Arnett, Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs with Irish Water, said “675,000 households are now paying water charges, meaning that nearly two million people are living in homes that pay for water services supplied by Irish Water”.
The company sent out bills to more than 1.7 million households during its first billing cycle.
Ms Arnett added that payments for the first bill are still coming in.
She said no reminders have been sent to customers who are yet to pay their bills.
She also said Irish Water has “a payment rate that is broadly in line with what would be expected for a new utility sending out a new bill for the first time. This represents a solid start for Irish Water.”
More than half a million calls have been made to Irish Water during the 12-week billing period.
Ms Arnett said: “Any customers who have a genuine difficulty paying their bill should contact us to arrange payment terms. We have a range of flexible ways in which people can pay in amounts starting from €5”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Arnett said “it is the first time this charge has been issued as a bill and that it does take time for charges to bed down,” and added Irish Water “have financial facilities in place to ensure that they are fully funded for 2015.”
Ms Arnett said they had no expectation in terms of how many people would pay, but that they expected not everybody would.
She said there was no target set for the first bill but that a target for 2015, as a whole, was set at €271 million from domestic customers.
Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy has described the figures as an “unmitigated disaster” for Irish Water.
Also speaking on Morning Ireland, Mr Murphy said those who did pay their bill should refuse to spend more money on the charges.
He said he does not believe the idea that it takes some time for new charges to “bed down”.
Mr Murphy added it is now clear that not only are a majority of people opposed, but that a majority of people are refusing to pay water charges.
Earlier this morning, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said the amount of money collected in charges by Irish Water is in line with the Government expectations and those of the company.
Speaking on the same programme, Mr Donohoe said the figure is slightly ahead of where the household charge was at this stage.
He stressed that this level of compliance has been achieved before reminder letters have been sent out, and that what must be explained to people is the benefit that the collection of these charges is having on the water system already.
He said he acknowledges that amongst a “small group of people” there is still opposition to Irish Water, but stressed that this figure is a starting point.
Speaking last night, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said the level of payment signals to the Government in no uncertain terms that the majority of people do not support water charges.