There’s been a fair bit of commentary on twitter re. the household charge numbers and speculating in the media.  Having just watched RTE1 News at 6pm it seems incredible to me that the Local Government Management Agency seems to have little idea as to how many housing units are liable for the household charge.  It seems even more odd that number seems to be floating between 1.6m and 1.8m. There seems to be a conflation between households (1.654m according to Census 2011) and housing stock minus exemptions/waivers (1.755m based on calculation below, probably 1.72m +/- 20k with the other minor exemptions taken out).  It is housing stock that is the base for the household charge (a vacant house is just as liable as an occupied house – this is a tax on property not occupancy).  Namawinelake has a post up about who is and isn’t eligible.  Working off the data contained in his post (I’ve updated a couple of his figures to Census 2011 data and added a couple, but otherwise I’m quoting his figures and sources) we come up with the following.  [On request, I have updated this post to match the data to the exemptions and waivers exactly as set out on the householdcharge.ie website – 21.15pm, Apr 1st]

What is eligible:

All housing units in the state, with seven exemptions and two waivers
Housing units in the state according to Census 2011: 1,994,845

What is exempt:

(1) Residential properties that are part of the trading stock of a business and have not been sold or been the source of any income since construction
18,638 unoccupied vacant housing units in unfinished estates the vast majority of which are unsold (under-construction were not counted in Census), plus small amount of unsold one-offs

(2) Residential property vested in a Minister of the Government or the Health Service Executive
Not known but small, ask govt depts and HSE

(3) Residential property vested in a housing authority, including property where households are purchasing their homes under the Shared Ownership Scheme and where the local authority still retains an ownership stake,
129,033 (renting social housing, Census 2011, Table 39), DECLG should have exact figure
23,547 (being bought from LAs, Census 2006 – I can’t find in Census 2011), DECLG should have exact figure

(4) Voluntary and co-operative housing,
14,942 (renting voluntary housing, Census 2011, Table 39)

(5) Residential property subject to commercial rates and wholly used as a dwelling,
Not known but small,  ask local authorities (there was a question on the Census, Table 38, but the class also includes apts in converted houses – total was 27,666 so know it was less than that – could ask CSO if it could disaggregate; )

(6) Residential property owned by certain charities or comprised in a discretionary trust, and
Not known but small

(7) Residential property where a person has to leave their house due to long-term mental or physical infirmity (e.g. a person that has moved into a nursing home).
Not known but small, possibly ask HSE.  There was a question on the Census.  Table 11 shows 28,395 people live in nursing and children’s homes, not all in nursing home will own property, so know less than that; could see if CSO can disaggregate. 

What is waivered:

(1) Owners of residential property entitled to mortgage interest supplement
19,000 (mortgage interest relief, Keane Report), Dept Soc Protection should have exact figure

(2) Owners of residential property located in certain prescribed unfinished housing estates
34,000 (category 3/4 unfinished estates, Money Guide Ireland, exact figure can be obtained from the Housing Development Survey undertaken by DECLG)

Houses eligible – a calculation based on above:

1,994,845 (housing units, Census 2011)
-18,638 (unoccupied vacant housing units unsold, Housing Development Survey, DECLG, 2011)
-129,033 (renting social housing, Census 2011, Table 39)
-14,942 (renting voluntary housing, Census 2011, Table 39)
-23,547 (being bought from LAs, Census 2006 – I can’t find in Census 2011)
-19,000 (mortgage interest relief, Keane Report)
-34,000 (category 3/4 unfinished estates, Money Guide Ireland)
= 1,755,685 (this still needs other small amounts of property taken-off namely exemptions 2, 5, 6, 7 – all of these will be very low in number and should not substantially alter this figure, probably 1.72m +/- 20k based on data above) (update Apr 2nd: also see my comment (no. 10 in list below – 1.72m to pay, 1.77m to register +/- 20k)).

Households paid, minus the 12,500 who have registered but qualify for the waiver

621,717 (already processed)
+89,000 (by post awaiting processing)
+ 82,175 (registered in local authority offices yesterday)
= 792,892

The percentage of those paid, based on those figures = 45.16% (54.84% left to pay)

Now if we outside the system can get that far, one would think that LGMA could get an even more precise figure by talking to the people who hold the relevant data (basically CSO, DECLG, Dept Social Protection, HSE).  I appreciate it is difficult to get an exact number because it’ll be difficult to know how many are exempt for reasons 2, 5, 6, 7 as set out above, but we can certainly make a reasonable estimate within a few thousand based on known data (rather than somewhere between 1.6-1.8m!)   This is not rocket science.

Rob Kitchin

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