Thorough review of water charges needed before further increases faced by Irish households says St Vincent de Paul The Society of St.Vincent de Paul says that the charging levels for water announced today face Irish households with costs which are one of the highest in Europe
it also says that the publication of the Regulators report just 24 hours before charging for water begins, makes a mockery of the regulatory system and underlines why a thorough review of water charges needs to be undertaken.
It points out that there is no certainty that the Government will maintain its present level of subsidy for Irish Water which could lead to a huge further increase in charges after 2016.
“The Government subsidy is the most significant aspect of pricing for households and it is far from certain that the level of subsidy will remain post 2016. Without it charges promised by the Government of €240 could be closer to €600.
“People and families on low and fixed incomes will find themselves in an extremely difficult situation from 2017 onwards as they are expected to meet ratcheting water charges.” says SVP.
The Society said it is deeply concerned at the impact on households in general and in particular those families and individuals which are continuing to struggle because of the Government’s austerity policies and who are not seeing any relief from the recovery described in Government statements.
“There have been many confusing statistics presented to the public and there is significant disparity between Irish Water’s proposals and Government-issued figures for the cost effects on households that a complete review is needed.
Today the Regulator announced that here will be a reduction in charges (was going to be €160; is now going to be €125) for non-principle residences (second homes) which means that customers without second homes are effectively subsidising owners of second or indeed multiple homes.” said John-Mark McCafferty, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy.
“We are particularly concerned at the lack of information underpinning Government direction on costs which were indicated by the Taoiseach and the likely severe increase of previously stated costs for households after the period of fixed pricing end in 2016.” said Mr McCafferty.
He added; “The SVP has consistently called for the consultation period on water charges to be extended, and more information provided to the public in order for the process to be meaningful. This process has been rushed through and will result in severe impositions on vulnerable families and individuals.
“The timing of Irish Water could not be worse than to propose to issue its first bills immediately after Christmas, which is an impact on families that shows grave lack of consideration for the stress and financial struggles of many households.
“The SVP is also calling on the Department of Social Protection to extend the water payment of €100, due to those currently receiving the Household Benefits Package, to recipients of the fuel allowance which is a more targeted way of helping those in need.”