Know your rights October 2014

Know Your Rights A: Getting a PPS number

October 2014

Question

I’ve just moved to Ireland and I’m looking for a job. Some potential employers have asked for my PPS Number. What is it and how do I get one?

Answer

Your Personal Public Service Number (PPS Number) is a unique reference number that helps you to access public services in Ireland. Sometimes employers say that you must have a PPS Number when applying for a job. What they really mean is that you need to have the right to work in Ireland and they use the PPS Number as shorthand for this. However, in law they are not entitled to do this (and having a PPS Number does not prove that you have the right to work in Ireland).

The legislation that governs the use of PPS Numbers states that the PPS Number can only be used by:
• Any organisation listed in legislation (a public or specified body)
• Any person or body authorised by a public body to do so
• Any person who has a transaction with a public body

This means that private companies or bodies (including potential employers) cannot use the number unless they are carrying out a transaction with a public body such as Revenue. The Personal Public Service Number Code of Practice on the Department of Social Protection’s website outlines who can use the PPS Number and for what purposes.

If you have newly arrived in Ireland you cannot get a PPS Number unless you need it for a transaction with a specified body. For example:
• Starting work (so you can pay tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge)
• Applying for a driving licence or exchanging your existing one for an Irish driving licence
• Applying for Child Benefit or another social welfare payment
• Setting up an account with Irish Water

Only the Department of Social Protection can provide you with a PPS Number. You can find a list of the social welfare local offices that can allocate PPS Numbers on the Department’s website. You will need to fill out an application form (which is only available from one of these PPS allocation centres), provide proof of your identity and evidence of your address. You may also be asked to show why you need a PPS number.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights B: Local Property Tax and the local

adjustment factor

October 2014

Question

What is the local adjustment factor for the Local Property Tax and how will this affect me?

Answer

Until now, Local Property Tax (LPT) rates have been the same nationwide – 0.18% for properties valued up to €1 million and 0.25% on any balance over €1 million. However, from 2015 on, a local authority may vary these basic rates within its own area by a maximum of 15%. This means that your local authority can either increase or decrease the rates of LPT payable in its area in 2015 by up to 15%. This is called the local adjustment factor. While the local authority has the power to vary the rates, the LPT will still be collected by Revenue.

The elected members of a local authority must consider the issues and decide whether to apply a local adjustment factor for 2015. To do this they must have passed a formal resolution to vary the rates and must have notified Revenue on or before 30 September 2014. If they reduce LPT rates by 15% in 2015, for example, this will result in a corresponding reduction of 15% in the amount that the local authority gets from the central LPT fund in 2015. (Each local authority will retain 80% of LPT to fund public services in 2015. The remaining 20% will be redistributed to provide top-up funding to certain local authority areas that have lower property tax bases than others because of the variance in property values across the State.)

The introduction of the local adjustment factor means that residential properties of the same value in different local authority areas may pay different amounts of LPT from 2015 on, depending on whether the local authority has applied a local adjustment factor or not.

For example, if your house is valued under €100,000, you will have paid €90 LPT in 2014. If the LPT rate in your local authority area is increased by 15%, you will pay €103.50 LPT in 2015 and if this rate is decreased by 15%, you will pay €76.50 LPT in 2015. Your LPT record will be updated in October 2014 to include your 2015 LPT charge. You will be able to confirm your LPT rate for 2015 by accessing your online LPT record.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights C: Household Benefits Package and

water charges

October 2014

Question

I live alone and get a State Pension. Will I be able to get any help with the new water charges?

Answer

Domestic water charges will apply from 1 October 2014 and the first bills will issue from January 2015. A free allowance of a certain amount of water will be provided for every household, with extra allowances for children. If you are getting the Household Benefits Package, you will also get help with the cost of water charges.

From January 2015 the Household Benefits Package will include a new annual Water Support payment of €100 (made up of four equal payments of €25). The Water Support payment will be paid to everyone who qualifies for the Household Benefits Package. This includes people who are not customers of Irish Water and who either have their own water supply or are members of a group scheme.

If you are currently getting the Household Benefits Package and get your allowance as a credit on your bill, the Department of Social Protection (DSP) does not hold payment details for you. In September 2014 the DSP contacted customers to ask them to complete a form with their bank account information so the Water Support payment can be paid directly. The Water Support payment can also be paid in post offices.

The Water Support payment will be paid directly to you, not to Irish Water. If your home is connected to a public water supply (or to public wastewater services) you will need to set up an account with Irish Water to pay your water charges and to claim the free household allowance. Irish Water has sent customer application packs to all households, to be returned by 31 October 2014.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

 

Know Your Rights D: Debt Relief Notice

October 2014

Question

I am unemployed, getting social welfare and living in rented accommodation. I have large credit card debts and a credit union loan of €13,300. I can’t make my repayments and the only asset I have is a car worth €1,200, which I need to take my son to school. Is there anything I can do to reduce my debts?

Answer

You may qualify for a Debt Relief Notice (DRN). This is one of three debt resolution mechanisms introduced under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 for people who cannot afford to pay their personal debts. In general, you can qualify for a DRN if your net monthly income after deductions for reasonable living expenses is under €60 and your total assets are valued at €400 or less. There are some exceptions. You are allowed, for example, to own a motor vehicle valued at €2,000 or less. You may qualify for a DRN if all your qualifying debts are below €20,000, excluding certain “non-permitted” debts.

You must apply for a DRN through an Approved Intermediary (AI). You must disclose all details of your financial affairs to the AI, who will then advise you whether or not you meet the conditions for a DRN, the consequences, any alternative options, and the fee that you may have to pay to the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI). The AI service is free.

The DRN provides you with protection from creditors for three years. If your circumstances do not change and you meet all the conditions of your DRN, at the end of the three-year period the money you owe to the creditors named on the DRN will be written off.

You can choose an AI from the Register of Approved Intermediaries published by the ISI. Several Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) companies have been authorised to act as AIs. If you are thinking of applying for a DRN through MABS, you will first need to answer some questions to check if you meet the eligibility criteria. You will need to gather all relevant information about your debts, assets, income and circumstances.

You can get further information from MABS on 0761 07 2000 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 8 pm) mabs.ie or from the ISI’s helpline 0761 06 4200 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm) and isi.gov.ie.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Co Wicklow Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public. See www.citizensinformation.ie for details of your local centre or phone our main office in Bray on 0761 07 6780
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.

Sign up to our weekly newsletter

Please contact us for use of this image