No Agreement No Number



Your PPS number and Irish Water.

Via solicitor Simon McGarr:

When challenged on how it has the right to ask for people’s PPS numbers, Irish Water has said that it is a specified body under statute. This is a reference to Section 20 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2014….

[However] This use is subject to prior agreement with Minister for Social Protection….

No such agreement between the Minister for Social Protection and Irish Water is anywhere shown on the Irish Water website or on the Department of Social Protection website.
However, the Department of Social Protection has published a statement from Irish Water on its website saying that the agreement is still not in place, as of September 2014.
“This arrangement has not been finalized at this time but we are engaging with the DSP”
If there is no agreement in place with the Minister, on what statutory basis is the collection and processing of PPS numbers taking place?


Irish Water, PPSNs and the missing Minister’s agreement (Simon McGarr Solicitors)

Thanks Brian S

77 thoughts on “No Agreement No Number

  1. ex pat

    It is absurd that a utility company have the right to a PPS number s a default position, surely only that right belongs to either the Revenue Commissioners or Dept Social Protection. However given the politicised nature of water concessions including the ‘allowance’ they are fully justified in requiring a PPS number for those that wish to claim those allowances.

    For those that burn registration packs there is one solution alone and that is to turn off their water if they don’t pay and after all normal processes leading to disconnection used by comparable utility companies have taken place. A decision has been made to partly normalise into a utility how the water utility area is managed at national level; it does not require departure from International norms.

    1. Sam

      What a politely phrased load of drivel.
      That water doesn’t belong to Irish Water. Our parents, their parents, and grandparents etc, worked and paid for the water network we have.
      The idea that we should be sitting back and compliantly making it easier to commodify and privatise our natural resource, is scornful. We might as well boycott the waste water facilities and go right ahead and relieve ourselves on the gravestones… “Here you are, we’ve pi$$ed away our own water network”.

      This is not about conservation or waste. The government is making no serious efforts to address either of those. It’s about revenue, pure and simple, and extorting money from people for the right to drink water, from a system we’ve built and already pay for.

      1. ex pat

        The reason Irish Water is a ‘Private Company’ is to facilitate off balance sheet borrowing to improve the network. If you were offered an investment proposition that involved a spending requirement of €1.2bn annually and a revenue stream of €500m with an investment requirement of €20bn over the next 20 years just to comply with EU directives would you buy into it as an investment?

        Water charges have been introduced because the state can no longer afford to give away water completely free, the subsidy to consumers has been adjusted from 100% of what all other 47 OECD states pay for to 7/12ths of what other OECD states pay for. A very good deal for consumers.

        1. Walter-Ego

          What a load of rubbish @ ex pat, our water is already payed for through progressive taxation. Our water was never free. This Irish gravy scam is just a way of privatisation of our natural resource, to be turned into a commodity to be sold at higher rates in the coming years. Go back to Government Shill HQ and jog on. Boycott Irish Water and all out November the 1st.

          1. ex pat

            If hypothetically water charges were abolished there would be a €500m hole in the finance figures. Where would you raise this figure? Health? Education? Welfare? Taxation?

          2. smoothlikemurphys

            “Go back to Government Shill HQ and jog on”

            Standard response around here to anyone around here that would dare to speak some common sense. Far better off living in LaLa Land with your fingers in your ears screaming No Consent over and over again

          3. smoothlikemurphys

            Also: “privatisation of our natural resource”

            You’d swear that the children of lir themselves came and put a tap in everyone’s homes, directly connected to the purest irish springs.

          4. Clampers Outside!

            And it’s outbursts of pure nonsense like that is why the anti-IW crowd are doomed to failure.

            We do not pay for water already, we haven’t paid directly for our water since the water rates were abolished in 1977 by Fianna Fail in order to win that years election. You know with their usual short term policies.
            What we have been doing is throwing taxes into a big pool and the govt divvies it up as it sees fit, and for years our water has been neglected, and not getting the funding it deserved.

            That is, we were not paying for it.

            In the mid-80s, and again FF, the govt was told by the EU that we needed to sort this out, that the water system was ‘Victorian’ and completely unfit for purpose and nothing was done.

            What we should be focusing on is not whether we pay or not, but on
            – how much
            – pricing structure (cheaper for more used, like ESB?)
            – how much do private companies / factories producing say soft drinks pay? That is, more transparency.
            – who pays
            – who is exempt

            AND MY NO. 1:
            – Ensuring the legislation that says Irish Water will not be privatised is put into the constitution.

          5. Mark Dennehy

            In other words Clampers, *we* paid for it and *politicians* decided to use the money for something else.

            Now, politicians have used that money to bail out an economy destroyed by a small group of people who profited well from it, and so we have to pay more money for the thing we expected the earlier money to be used for.

            And if you believe for one moment that we have adopted an easily-privatised structure for obtaining that money but don’t have plans to actually sell it off, I have a bridge to sell you.

          6. ex pat

            That is nonsense; the maths are

            Revenue €500m per year
            Costs €1,200m per year
            Investment required €20,000m

            Loss as a percentage of revenue 140%

            I’ve no issue with an amendment to the constitution preventing the future sale of water, gas and electricity grids but with the maths above only those with tin hats really believe this one can be realistically privatised.

        2. Sam

          When did we the people, decide that water was a commodity?

          Sure, the Children of Lir didn’t magic the water into our houses, but I don’t recall anyone from the Dail rolling up their sleeves, nor any bondholders digging a hole and installing pipes.

          We’re not ‘subsidising’ water, we’re paying for it. We’re not freeloading… you seem to have confused drinking water with being a failed developer getting a salary from NAMA.

          1. ex pat

            When tax receipts were spent to subvent all local authorities engaged in the provision of water services then we are subsidising it. Governments in other OECD countries subvent welfare, pensions, healthcare,roads, policing and a myriad of other services that are considered public goods.

            In no other OECD country is water considered a purely public good; it is a utility which is typically 100% paid for by the consumer of the product. The state has handed over at no cost a network worth many billions as it did with Bord Gais Networks and as it did with ESB Networks to the 100% state owned company that controls it. Unlike BGN or ESBN it continues to provide Irish Water with a subvention as well as allowing it to retain the sums that commercial users pay local authorities for the water they consume.

            What I can’t understand is that some people just do not make the link between a utility service costing money and those using the utility having to pay for it. Should we follow Indonesia’s lead and subsidise instead of taxing motor fuels?

          2. smoothlikemurphys

            “you seem to have confused drinking water with being a failed developer getting a salary from NAMA.”

            Incorrect, but you certainly seem to be confused as to what exactly you’re outraged about.

  2. Kevin Keegan

    Can I contact IW and ask them to remove that detail from my account as for them to keep it on record is a breach of data securilty?
    What a joke.

  3. Soundings

    What happens if you don’t return your registration by 30th November?

    Sometime in January, IW will issue a bill, but on what basis? How many people will it assume live at a property? And what happens if you pay IW a sum equal to the correct statutory charge?

    Surely, you only need register if you have children. Otherwise what can they possibly do. Idiots don’t have penalties for not returning registration, do they?

    1. ex pat

      You have a single personal allowance for each household, a bit discriminatory against say a house of friends sharing or a childless couple so it worth claiming. If you own the house they know who you are and if you rent it is probable the landlord will deduct charges from your deposit.

      1. Soundings

        Great, so if you’re a singleton, no need to register. Right, where’s the closest water-packs pyre?!

        1. ex pat

          If you are single you do have an allowance; and you probably also need to register to claim your tax allowance based on it.

          1. ex pat

            We already pay. The simplicity of the bin lid clangers is refreshing, we don’t already pay our way there is a €6,000,000,000 deficit, down from €20,000,000,000 borrowed to pay for day to day spending in 2009 but still real money that future generation have to repay.

    2. StabiloBoss

      Does anyone know if you don’t have a meter they will give you an estimated bill. so I love in a 2 bed apartment. is it better for me to say I love alone or tell them I’ve 2 kids and get the allowances? but they’ll estimate I’ll use a higher amount.

  4. epson aculaser c100

    ex pat, whats your agenda here?

    Why are you taking ‘your’ time to answer queries and advise on how people might pay/registrar correctly?

    From here your transparent as glass, the faux mature softly softly and Sam said “polite” tone
    won’t win over anyone here, now kindly f’off back to where your true colours shine.

    1. ex pat

      Is softly softly a euphemism for not discussing subjects like a raving keyboard warrior?

      We all have our opinions, mine is that this country has had two serious economic collapses in my lifetime both directly caused by government implementing auction politics election promises. The first in 1977 when property tax and car tax were abolished causing a collapse in the tax base when a global recession hit. The second in 2008 when cumulative tax reforms ensured a complete reliance upon transactional taxes.

      A broad tax base spread across income, property, transactions, capital and excise as well as elimination of expensive freebies is the only way to prevent future meltdowns when the global economy wobbles. Instability is the new normal. Water charges are a way of minimising government obligations the next time the shit hits the fan, and that will happen.

    2. Rob_G

      Rather than bandying the old ‘shill’ chestnut about, maybe you could suggest what other taxes you would like raised / services you would see cut instead of introducing water charges?

      1. jungleman

        1. RTE could be shut down, or cut in half, or sold. Instant saving right there.
        2. A third band of tax could be introduced for those on more than 110,000.
        3. Corp. tax could be paid at the proper rate, rather than the real rate.

        1. ex pat

          Tax for those earning over a €100k was already increased by 4% in the last budget in the form of higher USC charges; it is 15% higher than that payable in Northern Ireland. That measure was income neutral due to those extra taxes being given out in USC cuts for lower to middle income earners. Increase it any further and a house or an office in Newry states to look very attractive for those that pay higher taxes.

          RTE made a profit last year.

          On corporate taxes have a read of Weber’s seminal ‘Industrial Location Theory’ which outlines exactly why corporate tax is where it is; we could go back to the economic war and employ everyone ourselves and export children in their teens because they earn so little.

          There is no alternative to reducing Water Subsidy unless you want to cut health, education or welfare spending or increase income taxes across the board.

          1. jungleman

            RTE made a profit last year? Did you get your dividend then? RTE is a drain on the people of Ireland whether it makes a profit or not.

            Weber’s work focused on labour and transport costs as the main variables and can hardly be sensibly applied to the nature of the industries availing of the Irish tax system such as Google, Facebook and Apple. Furthermore it did not focus on tax systems. How do you like them apples?

            “There is no alternative to reducing Water Subsidy unless you want to cut health, education or welfare spending or increase income taxes across the board.” – Such nonsense. I just listed 3 options and I didn’t strain my brain, I’m sure there are more.

          2. ex pat

            You claimed RTE is a drain on resources, it made money in 2013, if it is sold you get the revenue once, it does nothing to deal with serious underlying deficit.

            All business is based on the relationship between core locations and peripheral markets; a service company based in London or Paris can visit their clients easily, from Dublin it requires a flight or where physical product is involved transport costs are a significant deterrent to setting up most traditional businesses where weight to value ratios are significant. The end of stateless companies being able to take the piss is very welcome, 12.5% is a competitive position in light of the physical disadvantage of being a cold damp rock remote from core population centres.

            You listed three areas, one already implemented and used, a second factually incorrect and the third a matter of opinion, it is however clear Ireland with a healthy MNC employment base is a lot better off than when those jobs did not exist.

        2. Clampers Outside!

          Seriously Jungleman, leave the RTE thing out of it. It’ll always be there, binning RTE is not going to happen nor should it. Streamline it, make it more efficient etc. yes, binning it would be stupid, IMO.

      2. epson aculaser c100

        I never stated a position on charges, but I know if I doubled any current benefit pat receives for championing the charges less his ego, hed be bating for me, if he was a working man during the 70’s as he likes to recall his nest is well by feathered he really chouldn’t give a flyn f eitherway

  5. Cian

    Letter in today’s Irish Times:
    “Sir, – I would like to disabuse your readers and correspondents of the notion that the troika is responsible for the introduction of water charges.

    In 2000, Ireland signed the EU Water Framework Directive into law. Article 16 of that directive requires the introduction of domestic water charges. The directive has to be implemented in full by 2015 and domestic water charges are one of the final pieces still outstanding. The last government signed us up for water charges, leaving this Government to implement them. – Yours, etc,”

      1. ex pat

        Article 3 clause 7 requires the establishment of a competent body to manage water, Irish Water therefore had to be set up to comply with the Directive. There was always the option not to comply and have daily fines of a few hundred million a year to be imposed.

        This all comes back the opportunity cost of entirely unsubsidised water, which are service cuts or tax rises elsewhere and the risks that when the economy stumbles again as it will, that those taxes will evaporate or the service provision will be completely inadequate and either services fail citizens or deficit will balloon.

        1. Spartacus

          That is an utterly dishonest claim. Go look for fools who will listen to your shyte elsewhere. perhaps?

          1. ex pat

            How is it dishonest, a competent body had to be appointed to oversee water quality both in river basins and the first mile of coast. In case you hadn’t noticed the network needs €20bn of investment to get it fit for purpose to provide decent drinking water, not available in many parts of the country consistently and some local authorities were pumping raw sewerage in to the sea.

            If water quality isn’t right Ireland is exposed to fines; are you claiming that if the €500m this switch raises isn’t raised and if capital expenditure doesn’t occur that fines are off the table?

          2. Spartacus

            1. There is nothing mandated by the directive to require the establishment of a new body such as Irish Water.

            2. There is nothing mandated by the directive to require that domestic water supplies be charged for consumption.

          3. ex pat

            There is a €6,000,000,000 annual deficit that ensures that the exchequer does not have the funds to carry out a €20,000,000,000 investment programme without significant opportunity costs in other areas.

            There is the requirement to have a competent body overseeing both rivers and the sea with direct responsibility for water quality as Irish Water are mandated to do, relieving all local authorities of this duty in respect of waste water, the principal source of potential breaches in the directive.

          4. ex pat

            Not dishonest, you could have merged the functions of Dept of the Marine and Waterways Ireland and in name repackaged them as Water Ireland but how is that going to manage the risks of water pollution mostly caused by multiple local authorities without funding failing to deliver the agreed level of water quality?


          5. Spartacus

            If my aunt had balls etc. etc.

            Nothing in the directive required the establishment of IW.
            Nothing in the directive required the stat to charge for domestic water supplies.

        2. Sam

          “Article 3 clause 7 requires the establishment of a *competent body* to manage water, Irish Water therefore had to be set up to comply with the Directive.”

          You don’t see the inherent contradiction in that assertion?

          Also, What is Irish Water doing to manage the water, as opposed to simply charging for it?

          What anti-pollution measures are they taking by installing meters?

          1. ex pat

            They are in control of all waste water plant and the entire pipe network; they are the sole body with responsibility over managing water quality risks from the water network.

            Minimising pollution, if you have to pay for it you will use less of it. Meters are the difference between leaving the tap on all night and turning it off.

          2. Sam

            Just how much b.s. and non-sequitur can one person spout in a day? Maybe we should meter you!

            Irish Water are in control of waste water plants and pipe network… so? Those pre-dated the setting up of Irish Water… and how is Irish Water tackling pollution, and reducing leaks? The leak in my office was caused by the installation of the meter. The leak was less than a metre from the meter, and bore all the hallmarks of plumbing at reckless speed.
            And did they find it or fix it? No. That was muggins here… cos the standard response was ‘it’s on your side of the meter’ .

            Who exactly is leaving a tap on all night? The only places I’ve seen with water spouting out of them are derelict houses, and the council were never quick to deal with that – and with nobody to charge for it, will Irish WaterCharges be quick on their heels? I won’t hold my breath.

          3. ex pat

            Sam, as explained to you ad nauseum, the directive requires a competent body, not competent bodies as was the case when multiple local authorities were responsible for managing water pollution. This difference is critical and on the scale of the difference in meaning between shall and may in terms of importance.

            How would you suggest complying with the requirement of this directive?

          4. Sam

            You’re repeating your assertions alright, but not backing them up. In what way is Irish Water doing any of the things you say it’s set up for?

            Simply charging private households for water doesn’t prevent pollution, nor reduce leaks.

            On what basis are they charging industrial use of water?
            What will they do to clamp down on agricultural pollution, with phosphates causing algal blooms and making many water sources unusable for days and weeks at a time? Show me their appetitie, or even mandate to tackle that…

            40% of the water never reaches a tap. If there was wastage even approaching that level in private houses, it would be common knowledge – people who flush the toilet every three minutes, and use the shower to water the garden plants perhaps?

          5. ex pat

            The €20bn investment programme much of it in the area of waste water treatment ending the practice of pumping raw sewerage into tidal locations is exactly why this charge is being introduced.

            You offer no alternative to this reduction in subsidy, until you do all you are doing is playing the man and not the ball.

          6. Sam

            “The €20bn investment programme much of it in the area of waste water treatment ending the practice of pumping raw sewerage into tidal locations is exactly why this charge is being introduced.”

            I’ll believe it when I see it.
            We have an international airport still doing exactly this don’t we? Was that the fault of the private resident?

            I notice you still haven’t mentioned the obstacles to water privatisation that I asked you for.

          7. ex pat

            It loses €700m a year and needs €20bn capital expenditure; due to the low population density of Ireland it will never be profitable given the length of network pies in relation to the consumer base it serves.

            It is ironic that people complaining about subvention dropping from €1.2bn per year to €700m a year are concerned that a company that loses 140% of its turnover may be a private sector takeover target.

  6. Colm

    Like so many of these posts, Simon McGarr’s underlying facts are wrong.

    Irish Water does have consent to collect and hold PPS numbers. In his post, he quotes from the Dept of Social Protection website “this arrangement has not been finalized at this time but we are engaging with the DSP”; but that statement does not relate to the legality of Irish Water collecting PPS numbers, the only thing that has not been finalised is how IW will liaise with DSP in checking that all these PPS numbers are correct.

    If you don’t want to pay your water bill, that’s fine, but I would urge people not to believe that these “legal loopholes” are a basis for not paying – they aren’t.

    Somewhat worrying if this was actually written by a solicitor.

    1. Sam

      He didn’t state there that is was grounds for not paying, he stated that they hadn’t got the agreement in relation to PPS numbers – a different point.

  7. illuminati16

    I personally have been paying for water since the 70s when group water schemes originated. Its fine don’t worry about it.

        1. ex pat

          Pointing to the fact that when Eircom imploded that there was no investment in broadband improvements for years and that held the SME sector in the regions back significantly during that period. 4 networks that should never be privatised are telecom base network, gas network, electricity distribution network and water pipe network.

          1. Sam

            And yet, here we are making it easy to commodify water.
            Taxpayer pays for the pipes and sanitation system…
            taxpayer pays for the meters,

            what’s the next step required, other than selling it off at a bargain price because ‘we are where we are’, while that w@nkweasel Noonan drones on about assuring us that there will be more jobs announced at the private water companies.

  8. Cian

    Clampers, the IT says The [Green] party wants to amend Article 10 of the Constitution which deals with ownership of natural resources to state that “… the State shall not provide for the privatisation or commercialisation of water services for the people.”

    How would this cope with group water scheme? or someone that drills wells? or sells water filters? Are these not commercialisation of water services ? and would become unconstitutional?

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Ah look, neither of the schemes you mention would come under “commercial” selling of water. They are as you state “group” schemes and private wells, not for profits. As for selling filters, how does selling accessories to the equipment constitute selling the “water” supply….

      /shakes head*

      Start again please.

  9. Unemployed Lawyer

    Apropos of the above post..

    I’ve been looking at the section (Section 262 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005) which obliges people to provide their PPS numbers to Irish Water – and presumably gives Irish Water a concomitant entitlement to request same – but I can’t see any reference in it to the obligation to furnish one’s PPS number being subject to any ministerial agreement.

    Nor do I see anything on the Irish Water site linked to about a ministerial agreement being outstanding. No ‘ministerial agreement’ is mentioned in the definition of ‘specified body’ in the 2005 Act or any Schedule nor – as far as I can see – is it mentioned in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2014 which includes Irish Water in the list of specified bodies.

    Am I missing something? Has there been an amendment to the 2005 Act introducing this requirement which doesn’t come up on Or are Mr McGarr and the blogger he cites, Damien McCallig both under some sort of misunderstanding?

    P.S. I have no vested interest in this, never having been acted or (by reason of my current residence outside the jurisdiction) likely to act for Irish Water or their ilk. Just curious and if I have omitted to consider something here my apologies…

    1. Spartacus

      Nothing “obliges” people to supply their PPSN to Irish Water. What gave you that idea? IW claim entitlement to request that information subject to their approval as an authorised user under the legislation. Their entry in the PPSN Register of Users states (at today’s date):

      “It is likely that the PPS Number will be shared with the Department of Social Protection for the purpose of validating PPS Numbers provided to us in respect of all water allowances. This arrangement has not been finalized at this time but we are engaging with the DSP.

      Absent a formal arrangement (How hard can it be? What issues are outstanding? Is there an underying problem which has not been made public?), the authority hel by IW is fundamentally flawed.

      The PPSN enforcer is effectively toothless and in my direct experience has shown no appetite for engaging with complaints of abuse by semi-state bodies in the past.

    2. jungleman

      I think you’re correct. What McGarr refers to seems to be more of a logistical arrangement than anything else…

  10. Naomi

    This is a response I received from the Department of Social Welfare:

    The legislation governing the use of the PPS Number is contained in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 (as amended). Only bodies specified in statute or their agents can use the PPS Number. The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2014 contains an amendment to include ‘Irish Water’ as a specified body in Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005 (as amended). This Legislation was enacted on the 17th of July 2014 .

    There is a Register of Users of the PPSN on our website , . This is a reflection of all bodies specified in Legislation to use the PPS number, we have requested a Return from Irish Water for our website detailing how they use the PPS number and we would hope to have this updated on our website shortly


    Irene Hickey
    HEO CIS Compliance
    Department of Social protection

  11. Frilly Keane, Anyone?

    Ah stop talking white sexPat

    Water charges arent going to reduce the 6bill deficit

    In fact Im pretty sure Irish WawWaw will eventually add to it, when all the Jobs for the Boys crystallise into Rody Molloy deals.

    You asked someone earlier about filling a 500m black hole
    Lemme start

    1. ex pat

      Increments are another classic piece of auction politics that have been around since the 1970s if not before. This is how business has been traditionally done in Ireland, avoiding paying now and incurring a larger liability in the future. The problem in removing them at the stroke of a pen is that the state is contractually bound to deliver them even in a low inflation environment where they retain no relevance. The transfer of local authority staff into a national body makes no difference to the level of increments paid.

      Staff cuts in the civil and public services since 2011 have delivered significant savings, as have lower salary entry points in key areas such as teaching and nursing where pay levels are far lower than in comparable labour markets such as the UK. I personally feel that allowances such as regional weighting are far more equitable than increments; it is clear that someone based in Cork City has a higher cost of living than someone based in Mohill.

      To say that contract clauses that need to be bought out can deliver savings is not however a clear strategy to shave off cost in the manner that a pension contributions or pay freezes which were implemented and did not interfere with legally held rights were.

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