Refunds of water charges

The Water Services Bill 2017 has been published. It provides for the refund of payments made for domestic water charges.

Refund cheques will issue to around 990,000 customers after the legislation is passed.

Customers who have moved house should contact Irish Water at 1850 448 448 to update their details so that the cheque will go to their new address. This line is open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

Read more on water.ie.

Know Your Rights: Student grant appeals

Question

I’ve applied for a student grant to start a college course this year but I didn’t get the grant I was expecting. What can I do?

Answer

Applications for the Student Grant Scheme are processed by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). If you are not happy with the outcome of your application, you can ask SUSI to review the decision if there has been a change in your circumstances or if you think your household income wasn’t assessed correctly. You can also request a review if you think you should get a special rate of grant or if you think there was an error in assessing the distance between your home and college (which affects whether you get an adjacent or non-adjacent rate).

You can request a review by using the online form on the website susi.ie.

You can also make an appeal to SUSI if you are not happy with your final grant decision or if you request a review and are not satisfied with the outcome. You must make the appeal within 30 days of the original grant decision. This deadline may be extended by a further 30 days if the Appeals Officer accepts that you have reasonable cause.

To appeal, you complete the form, available at susi.ie, explaining why you think SUSI applied the rules incorrectly. The Appeals Officer will notify you of the outcome within 30 days.

If your appeal is turned down you can submit a further appeal to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board, outlining why you believe the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in your case. When you get the written decision of the SUSI Appeals Officer it will include information on how to submit an appeal to the Student Grants Appeals Board.

The Board has 60 days to decide on your appeal and will write to you to let you know its decision. An appeal of this decision on a specific point of law is possible and can be made to the High Court.

Air passenger rights

Under European law, air passengers have specific consumer rights if a flight is cancelled or delayed or if they are denied boarding.

The website flightrights.ie provides information about your rights and entitlements in these situations.

Flightrights.ie is a website of the Commission for Aviation Regulation.

Donegal flooding: financial assistance for farmers

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is making financial assistance available to farmers affected by the recent flooding in the Inishowen area of Donegal.

Details of this “DAFM Flood Damage Relief Measure” are on the application form, which is on the Department’s website.

Completed applications must reach the Department by Friday 29 September 2017.

(This scheme is separate from the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme being run by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.)

Redesign of Citizensinformation.ie

We have been working on a project to redesign and refresh Citizensinformation.ie, to give the site a more modern look and feel. We plan to switch over to the new design later today (Thursday).

Users of the site may experience a few minutes of downtime during the switchover. We will do our best to make sure that any such downtime is as short as possible.

Know Your Rights: Fuel Allowance

Question

Who qualifies for Fuel Allowance and how is it paid?

Answer

Fuel Allowance is paid under the National Fuel Scheme, operated by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is intended to help people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to meet their heating needs. The fuel season for 2017–2018 starts on Monday 2 October 2017.

Under the scheme, a Fuel Allowance of €22.50 per week is generally paid with your social welfare payment. For the 2017–2018 fuel season, the total allowance of €585 can be paid in two equal lump sums, one at the start of the season in October and the second in January. To avail of this payment option, you must complete the form FA CPF 1 which is available from your local post office or social welfare office. You can also get this form by texting FORM FUELCHANGE, followed by your name and address, to 51909. To get the lump sum in October 2017, you must submit your completed form before 15 September 2017. If you submit your form after this date there is no guarantee that you will receive the lump sum in October, but your weekly payment will continue until the January lump sum is issued.

Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment. If you are getting a non-contributory social welfare payment, you are accepted as satisfying the means test.

You must live alone or with someone who also qualifies for the allowance – you cannot get the allowance if you live with someone who does not qualify. Where two or more people living in the same household qualify for the allowance, only one allowance is paid. If your heating needs are met in other ways (for example, if you live in local authority housing where heating is provided), you do not qualify for Fuel Allowance.

If you think you are eligible, you should apply immediately because  the allowance will not be backdated after the start of the fuel season in October. The application form for Fuel Allowance (NFS1) is available at your post office or social welfare office, or by texting FORM FUEL followed by your name and address to 51909.