Friday 20 April 2018

Anger as our water charges among the highest in Europe

A FAMILY with two adult children will be hit with water bills of €470 a year, almost twice the €238 'average' charge the government said earlier this year.

A household with just two adults and no children will pay €278 – €40 more than the Government said the average family would pay when it released estimates before the local and European elections in May.

The free water allowance for children has also been dramatically reduced, according to figures published by the water regulator, outlining the proposed level of water charges and allowances.

The Government previously said that up to 38,000 litres a year per child would be allocated - but that is to be reduced to 21,000 litres. That's one shower and one flush each day.

From next March, houses with meters will pay based on consumption, but just one-third of houses are expected to have meters. Everyone else will continue to pay an assessed charge.

An unmetered household with one adult will be charged €176 a year for drinking water and wastewater services, with each additional person over 18 paying €102 extra.

The regulator has also said that charges will only apply to consumption by adults, as the Government will fund the cost of providing water for children.

However, serious concerns have been raised that pensioners and families with children over 18 attending third-level or starting their careers will take a severe financial hit when charges start in October.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul said the charge will be one of the highest in Europe, and would have "serious implications" for low-income households.

The Society also said that households with adult children would bear a "disproportionate" burden - over 350,000 households in Ireland have three or more adults living in them.

"This establishes a culture of high charging which could have serious implications after 2016, recognised as the end of the transitionary period," said social justice officer Brendan Hennessy.

Fianna Fail environment spokesman Barry Cowen said the publication of the proposed water charges "exposed the Government's dishonesty" while Sinn Fein's environment spokesman, Brian Stanley, has also accused the Government of "misleading the public" on the likely level of charges.