Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins TD has announced that Fianna Fáil will be introducing a series of comprehensive amendments to the Fine Gael/Labour U-turn on the Household charge announced today in the budget. The bill is already being railroaded through the Seanad today and tomorrow as the government attempts to covertly introduce charge without real debate.

 

Deputy Collins commented, “The €100 charge was only published yesterday in a blatant attempt by the Government to avoid real debate and avoid having to consider constructive amendments that would ensure it does not become a regressive flat tax. This covert action will not distract homeowners and voters from the outrageous U-turn by Fine Gael/Labour.

 

“It is instructive to look again at the rhetoric that was being used just nine short months ago.  Prior to the February election Fine Gael declared that

 

“• The initial flat rate charge means that owners of houses in standard neighbourhoods will pay as much as the owners of mansions.

It will be difficult to pay for asset-rich but income poor households, particularly the elderly and the unemployed; and

It will be deeply unfair for a young generation that paid exorbitant amounts of stamp duty and VAT on the purchases on over-valued houses, many of whom now find themselves in negative equity.”  

 

“It has now abandoned that position without apology or explanation.

 

“Meanwhile, the Labour Party was even more explicit, declaring that it was against an interim measure on the basis that any charge “cannot be set in place before 2014”. Furthermore it called for exemptions from such property charges on the basis of “the need to take account of those who have recently paid large sums in stamp duty or who are in negative equity”.

 

The Limerick Deputy concluded, “We are calling on the Labour Party to live up to those promises and support the amendments that we are tabling to ensure that he household charge does not adversely affect ordinary homeowners who are already struggling to make ends meet.”