Thursday 23 October 2014

OAPs and sick to get help with water charges

Daniel McConnell Group Political Correspondent

Published 01/05/2014 | 02:30

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin

PENSIONERS, welfare recipients and those with chronic illnesses will get waivers or be compensated to offset the cost of water charges, it emerged last night.

The Cabinet has so far failed to reach final agreement on the level of tariffs that homeowners will be expected to pay, but government sources said the package of "fairness measures" being examined will cost about €50m.

Following a face-to-face meeting between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore before Cabinet, it became clear that no agreement would be reached yesterday.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan had been expected to bring a compromise memorandum to Cabinet – but such was the lack of agreement that only a brief discussion on the issue took place.

The Irish Independent understands that Labour ministers are continuing to push for the scrapping of the €50 standing charge, for an increase in the proposed free allowance for households and some mechanism to compensate those groups least able to pay.

Just how homeowners will be compensated remains to be decided, but government sources said "three or four options" remained under discussion.

Mr Gilmore said: "The issues under discussion are well known, they relate to metering, free allowance and what do we do about the ability to pay. Progress has been made on those discussions. There wasn't sufficient progress made to enable us to make a decision on it today but I am confident we will be able to reach a decision in the reasonably near future."

Mr Kenny was asked for his own assessment and replied: "I agree with that."

Irish Independent

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