Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment, Barry Cowen TD, has called on the Minister for the Environment to publish the poverty analysis conducted prior to the introduction of water charges which looked at the effect of these charges on low-income groups.
He commented: “Yesterday, we saw the mask slip with the Government and their shambolic introduction of water charges. Former Minister Fergus O’Dowd told us that the set-up of Irish Water had been an abject failure, an unmitigated disaster and the attitude has been uncaring and arrogant.
“Deputy O’Dowd also spoke about the fact that exemptions for the unemployed and those on low incomes were “simply not wide enough”. Fianna Fáil has consistently called for an ability to pay clause to be included as the current water poverty measures do not cover the unemployed or those on low incomes. For instance, a family with three adult children will be forced to pay water charges of €585 per year. These adult children will put parents under enormous pressure. This is simply unfair and will drive many of these families under the poverty line
“I am calling on Minister Alan Kelly to publish the poverty analysis that was conducted on water charges. We need to see what exactly the impact of water charges will be on different income groups. This analysis should have been published before now and there is a responsibility on Minister Kelly to do so immediately.
“Currently, only those on the Household Benefits Package will receive allowances on their water bills, the Nevin Institute has said this will be ineffective in tackling water poverty. There is no account taken for people who are unemployed or families on low incomes, the Minister charged with introducing water charges has acknowledged this does not go far enough. We now need how many more income groups will be at risk of poverty because of water charges and measures need to be taken to provide some relief for those who will struggle to pay.”