Water charges must be fair

ARDEE Town Councillor Leonard Hatrick wants water charges to be means tested.

ARDEE Town Councillor Leonard Hatrick wants water charges to be means tested.

The Labour Party councillor said if water charges are now going to be introduced then a waiver scheme should be introduced so that people on low incomes should not suffer unnecessary hardship.

Labour has consistently been opposed to unmetered water charges. Unfortunately, as a consequence of the EU-IMF deal, agreed by the previous government, Ireland is committed to introducing water charges, and it now seems that they have little option but to introduce a charge, before meters are in place. A flat rate charge is far from ideal, to say the least. But if such charges are to become a reality, then it is absolutely essential that we put in place, a waiver scheme, so that those people who are least able to pay, are not forced to suffer unnecessary hardship. It would be unacceptable to expect people on very low incomes, such as those in receipt of welfare payments, to fork out substantial sums of money, when many of them are already put to the pin of their collars to make ends meet. A flat-rate charge offers users no incentive whatsoever to be economical with the water use and no opportunity to householders to reduce their bills.

The sooner we can move from a flat rate system to one based on usage, the better. It is essential that the process of installation of water meters in homes, gets under way as soon as possible.

The installation of meters will not only expedite a fairer billing system, but will also provide much-needed employment for builders and contractors.