Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment Barry Cowen has said new detail released to the party under Freedom of Information shows there was little planning and thought put into the implementation of the Water Conservation Grant.

It’s emerged in documents released to Fianna Fáil that the Department of Social Protection has written to the Department of Public Expenditure seeking more money this year to implement the scheme for the Water Conservation Grant.

Deputy Cowen commented: “What this correspondence reveals is how little thought or preparation went into this policy from Government. At every juncture the government has made a complete mess of the establishment of Irish Water and the implementation of water charges. It is clear that no work was done trying to understand the financial or other resource implications that this entirely new payments system for the Water Conservation Grant was going to have on the Department it was dumped on.

“We still don’t know how much this is going to cost, but we do know that it will further undermine the net income raised through water charges and it will further undermine the entire rationale for setting up the Irish Water quango. The Government has been making up its water strategy as it goes along – we see from this correspondence the impact this is having on the public service charged with trying to keep focussed on a constantly moving target.

“Only last week an EU report underlined many of the issues Fianna Fáil has consistently raised with the government’s disastrous water policy. There are real concerns that Irish Water will not make the Market Corporation Test because the government has engaged in a cynical exercise to cook the books. The report also says the €100 water conservation grant amounts to an “Exchequer transfer to Irish Water via households.”

“The Government needs to come clean on how much money the Department of Social Protection will need to cover what it details as ‘consultancy costs, postal charges, advertising charges’ in order to have the system for the Water Conservation Grant in place by the end of June and what implications this will have for the 2015 spending estimates.”