Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment, Barry Cowen TD, says working families lost out in today’s budget announcement regarding water tax reliefs.
He commented: “Today’s announcement of tax credits in relation to water charges will do very little for working families who are struggling. While it is welcome that those receiving the Household Benefits Package and the Fuel Allowance will receive a €100 water tax subsidy it still leaves the average low income household facing a bill of at least €170 per year.
“Trying to confuse households by introducing water charges tax credits, water charges free allowances and Household Benefit Package credits will not work. The Government had a chance to introduce an element of fairness with water charges credits in today’s budget but again it has failed miserably. Average households will receive a paltry saving on their water charges with the new tax credits, which will do nothing to ease the burden of the unfair charge. The Government is giving with one hand in tax measures and taking away with the other in water charges. This will not be lost on families when the first water charge bill comes in January.
“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.
“Warnings about the outlandish €180 million costs associated with the set-up of Irish Water, which householders will now be forced to pay for, were ignored. The gold-plated, bonus driven culture of Irish Water will absorb much of the water charges every household in Ireland will pay in January.
“The mixed messages from Irish Water, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and now the Government about how much people will pay will only add to public fury about the disastrous handling of this from the very start.
“The Government now needs to urgently reassess its policy in relation to water allowances to take account of the pressures on working families.”