Written answers

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Department of Social Protection

Water Conservation Grant

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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231. To ask the Minister for Social Protection when the water conservation payment registration will commence; when and the way payment will issue; the estimated administrative cost of the scheme; if additional staff will be required to administer the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20619/15]

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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The 2015 grant of 100 will be paid beginning in September 2015 to households registered with Irish Water by 30th June 2015 in respect of their principal private residence. The Department will be writing to registered customers in late August and September to advise them of the application process. In order to minimise costs payment will be by electronic funds transfer. In exceptional cases a cheque may be issued.

A total of fifteen staff are being assigned initially to administer the scheme. In addition, staff from a variety of disciplines within the Department are inputting to the project as required.

It is anticipated that the grant will operate over a number of years, and at least until the end of 2018 in keeping with the package of measures announced by the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government on 19 November 2014. The administration and payment of this grant is a significant project for the Department and requires the development and implementation of ICT systems, ICT infrastructure and various customer support and communications services. It requires a number of public procurement exercises, one of which is underway at present. Accordingly, the start-up costs to develop and set up the ICT solutions, and put in place comprehensive customer support services, will be incurred in 2015. On the basis of the scoping work done to date, it is now estimated that these once-off costs, together with the operational costs for 2015, will amount in total to approx. 6 million. As expenditure in forthcoming years will be limited to operational costs, it should be considerably less, resulting in overall administrative costs being within 2-3% of scheme costs over its lifetime.

Every effort is being made to maximise efficiencies and keep costs to the absolute minimum. In this regard, the Department will be reusing existing payment production systems to facilitate payment of the grant. It is also intended that the ICT infrastructure put in place for this project will be reused for the provision of online services in the future.

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