Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment, Barry Cowen TD, has called on the Minister for Environment to outline just how many lower income families will gain nothing from the Irish Water tax reliefs and allowances announced in yesterday’s budget.
Deputy Cowen commented: “Households throughout the country were left utterly confused by yesterday’s announcement of allowances and tax reliefs on water charges. A mix of allowances for people on the Household Benefits Package and the Fuel Allowance together with various tax reliefs left many people scratching their heads as to whether they are entitled to any relief from their water charges.
“Incredibly, it now transpires that families on low incomes that don’t earn enough money to pay tax will be entitled to no relief at all. The Tánaiste admitted as much on national radio this morning but the Government must do more than “have a look” at this glaring anomaly.
“For the last three years, I have called for an ability to pay clause to be considered in relation to water charges but the Government ignored these repeated requests. In a desperate attempt to save face after massive protests over the weekend, Fine Gael and Labour rushed through a tax relief measure which was not properly researched and thought out. The Government has now been caught out with this panic measure.
“It is quite obvious that the line Minister Alan Kelly wants nothing to do with the disaster that is Irish Water, but who is taking responsibility here? As the days go by the Government continues to mishandle Irish Water and infuriate an already angry public.
“I am calling on Minister Kelly, who so far has been conspicuous by his absence from any form of debate on Irish Water, to outline how many families will gain nothing from yesterday’s budget measures and take steps to rectify this before it is too late.”