The future of water charges

 

Sir, – If it is true that water charges cannot be abolished (“Water charges cannot be scrapped, say lawyers”, March 29th), it remains a political imperative to reduce the cost to households. I suggest we adopt what is called a “tax and dividend” approach in environmental taxation. The cap on household charges would be removed so we would pay according to use, after our free allowances, but the universal conservation grant would be increased to the level of the average bill – €400 was one initial projection. The incentive to conserve would be restored. If you use less water than the average, you would be left with a cash dividend; if you are wasteful, you would be out of pocket. The distributional consequences would be progressive, unlike the current flat charge. As lower-income households tend to use less water on average, the reformed scheme would lead to a cash transfer from better-off households to poorer ones. – Yours, etc,

OISÍN COGHLAN,

Director,

Friends of the Earth,

Upper Mount Street,

Dublin 2.