Monday 22 January 2018

Charges will affect worst off families

Olivia Ryan

DUNDALK St. Vincent De Paul have warned that the introduction of water charges will hit the lowest income families hardest.

Society President Liam Reilly said the charity was bracing itself for the additional demands that households will be facing.

'We have been working hard through our social justice programme to highlight just how difficult it will be for families who are already struggling to meet the high costs of water charges,' Liam told the Argus.

'These water proposals have serious implications for low-income households, especially they will be introduced around or before Christmas, which is already the most expensive time of year for families.'

He highlighted the charge, set at €4.88 per 1,000 litres as 'the highest in Europe'

Estimated charges being made public over the last week outlined an annual cost of up to €470 for a family of four with two grown up children.

'We have already had one of the busiest years in 2014. There has been a lot of talk about the economy picking up, but the reality is that families are still really struggling, and these high charges proposed are only going to make life much more difficult for them,' said Liam.

He added that St. Vincent De Paul were raising concerns that such costs at the stage of introduction 'would establish a culture of high charging which could have serious implications after 2016, recognised as the end of the transitionary period.'

The SVP also says that over and above the regular water allowances, there are no additional measures for the 'working age' households. These households with one or more working adults will therefore bear a disproportionate cost.

'Alongside lobbying the government over this issue, we are also working to make people aware that water charges are set to be introduced later this year,' added Liam.

He said that St. Vincent De Paul acknowledges that we are now in a period of learning about water consumption, the impact of water pricing and establishing who fall into water poverty.

'We urgently need to use the fixed period up to 2016 to gain a greater understanding of the complexities of the Irish Water market, water poverty and affordability.'

The Argus

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