Getting married – exemptions from notice requirement

If you are getting married in Ireland, you must notify a Registrar at least 3 months before the date you plan to get married. However, in some special circumstances you can get a Court Exemption Order allowing you to marry without giving the 3-month notification, for example, if you or your partner has a very serious illness.

You can apply for this exemption at the Circuit Family Court or High Court in the area where you or your partner live. You can apply without a solicitor and there is no court fee or charge.

To get an exemption, you need to show the court that there are good reasons for your application and that the exemption is in the best interests of both parties to the marriage.

Read more about the notification requirements for marriage.

Risk of forest fires

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a nationwide Condition Red Forest Fire Danger Rating Notice.

While the notice is in place, you should avoid lighting fires around forests or open land. Be careful when disposing of smoking materials, such as cigarette butts. If you do come across a fire, do not attempt to fight it yourself. Try to move to a safe area upwind of the fire, and phone 112 to alert the emergency services.

Read more about the forest fire notice on dafm.ie.

Weather alert

Met Éireann has issued a high-temperature weather alert nationwide.

Temperatures are expected to reach 27 degrees and higher in parts of the country throughout the week. The warning will be in place until 9pm on Friday, 29 June 2018.

The following information will help you stay safe while enjoying the hot weather:

Long periods of hot, dry weather can also put pressure on domestic water supplies. Check out ways to use less water at home on water.ie.

Read more about the weather alert on met.ie.

Know Your Rights: Home Renovation Incentive Scheme

Question

My partner and I own our home and want to extend it this year. Would we qualify for a tax credit for the work, and if so, how do we apply?

Answer (May 2018)

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme lets homeowners, landlords and local authority tenants claim tax relief on the cost of repairs, renovations or improvement works carried out on their main home or rental property.

To qualify for the HRI, you must be paying income tax and be up to date with your Local Property Tax (LPT). The work must be carried out by a contractor who is registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) and is tax-compliant.

Any repair, renovation or improvement work subject to VAT at 13.5% qualifies for the scheme, so your proposed extension would be covered. Work that is subject to VAT at 23% (such as architect’s fees) is not covered. Neither are items such as furniture, white goods or carpets.
The HRI is paid as a tax credit at 13.5% of the cost, effectively reducing the rate of VAT on qualifying work to zero. The qualifying work must cost at least €4,405 before VAT at 13.5% (€5,000 including VAT). The credit can be claimed up to a maximum of €30,000 (before VAT) of the total cost of works.

The work must be carried out and paid for before 31 December 2018. However, this can be extended if you need planning permission. If this is the case, planning permission must be in place by 31 December 2018. You will then have until 31 March 2019 to complete the work.

To apply for the HRI, your contractor(s) must enter details of the work and payments on the HRI online system on revenue.ie. You should access the system to check that these details have been entered correctly. You claim the credit after the end of the tax year in which you have the work done. In general, the tax credit is applied over the two years following the year in which the work is carried out and paid for.

Read more about the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme.

Staying safe in the water

It’s National Water Safety Awareness Week (18–24 June 2018).

Here are some simple things you can do to stay safe in the water.

  • Only swim at waterways with a lifeguard
  • Stay within your depth
  • Wear a lifejacket
  • Avoid alcohol

You can use this list of lifeguarded waterways to find a safe place to go swimming.

Check out more water safety tips and advice on watersafety.ie.

Your rights as an air passenger

If you are travelling abroad by air this summer, the flight rights calculator can help you find out your rights if something goes wrong, for example, if your flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked, or if something happens to your baggage.

Once you know your rights, you should make a formal complaint to the airline by email or through the airline’s website. Details for the online complaints sections of most European airlines are listed on eccireland.ie.

You can find more information about your rights as an air passenger on flightrights.ie.

Social Welfare Appeals Office Annual Report

The Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO) has published its annual report for 2017. The SWAO provides an independent appeals service for anyone who wants to appeal a decision about their social welfare payment.

In 2017, the SWAO received 19,658 appeals which was a reduction on the 22,461 appeals for 2016.

Appeals about Working Age – Income and Employment Support schemes reduced the most. Appeals about Supplementary Welfare Allowance reduced by 33.9%, Jobseeker’s Allowance by 17.5% and appeals about Jobseeker’s Allowance means tests were down by 26.6%.

There were also reductions in the number of appeals about Illness Benefit (down 45.9%), Carer’s Allowance (down 17.7%) and Family Income Supplement (now Working Family Payment) down by 6.5%.

The number of appeals about some payments increased slightly, Disability Allowance (up 3.4%), Invalidity Pension (up 1.4%) and Domiciliary Care Allowance (up 0.1%).

You can read the full report on the Social Welfare Appeals website (pdf).

Know Your Rights: Seniors Alert Scheme

Question

I am a pensioner and live with my daughter who works full-time. I am on my own a lot of the time and I’m worried about my safety. I would like to get a personal alarm but I can’t afford one.

Answer (May 2018)

The Seniors Alert Scheme gives support to provide and install monitored personal alarm systems to older people of limited means. The scheme aims to support older people to continue to live securely and independently in their homes. The scheme is available through local community, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations registered with Pobal, the non-profit company that administers the scheme.

The personal alarm is worn as a pendant around your neck or around your wrist like a watch and connects to a base unit in your home. When the alarm is activated, it automatically rings a helpline, which is open 24 hours a day, all year round. A helpline operator talks to you through the base unit and decides whether to alert a local volunteer responder or, if necessary, the emergency services.

The alarm monitoring service is free for the first year. After the first year, you pay an annual monitoring fee. Charges vary by provider and the type of alarm or pendant.

People aged 65 or over with limited means are eligible for the scheme. You must also be either living alone, living alone for most of the day, living with someone who also meets the eligibility criteria, or caring for someone else in your household. You must be able to benefit from the equipment being supplied and willing to maintain contact with the group administering the scheme. The equipment is supplied and installed for free, however you must return it to the registered group if no longer needed.

Contact the local group administering the scheme in your area to apply. Pobal publishes a list of all registered groups in the country on its website pobal.ie. You can also contact Pobal at (01) 511 7000 for details of your local group.