Help with water charges to be decided this week
Some welfare claimants likely to get extra payment to help pay charge
Eamon Gilmore (with Emer Costello): ‘Any water charging should be based on usage so that households can have an incentive to conserve water but also can have a way of being able to reduce their bill.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Special aid to help certain welfare claimants to pay their water charge is likely to be added to their payments under “hardship” measures to be settled this week by the Government.
The option of providing increased payments to some welfare claimants to help defray the charge is likely to be chosen over the alternative route of making deductions at source from the quarterly bill.
It is acknowledged on both sides of the Government that the “hardship remediation package” and the scrapping of the €50 annual standing charge will increase the fees paid by householders who bear the full brunt of the charge.
However, senior Government sources said yesterday that the average annual fee for householders would remain set at €240.
‘Work to do’
In Dublin yesterday, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said both Government parties had made a lot of progress on the matter in recent days. “We still have some work to do. We’re continuing to do that work over this weekend. I hope it will be possible to come to a conclusion shortly,” he said.
“We have not been in favour of flat-charging. We’ve been clear – and indeed the Programme for Government is clear – that any water charging should be based on usage so that households can have an incentive to conserve water but also can have a way of being able to reduce their bill.”
Mr Gilmore was speaking at the formal launch of the European campaign of MEP Emer Costello, who is running Dublin.
The Tánaiste rejected the assertion of junior minister Seán Sherlock that it was difficult to take seriously the campaign of Labour MEP Phil Prendergast, who called last week for her party leader’s resignation.
“She can be taken most seriously,” said Mr Gilmore. “As the Labour Party candidate in Ireland South she has our full support.
“We want her to win that election. She has been a very good MEP.”