Water Services Bill will drive thousands in to water poverty – Cullinane
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has stated that the government’s introduction of measures to give effect to water charges is regressive, and could lead to water poverty.
The Waterford Senator was speaking during the committee stage of the Water Services Bill, the first opportunity to table amendments to the Bill.
Sinn Féin submitted several amendments, including amendments to delay introduction of water charges subject to a poverty impact analysis, to propose an alternative to the Irish Water body, to exempt certain categories of people on low incomes from payment of water charges, and to stop the introduction of water charges.
Senator Cullinane’s amendments were the only amendments, as Fianna Fáil missed the deadline for submission of amendments.
“The government is totally out of touch if they think that ordinary citizens can afford to pay such charges. Most householders simply cannot afford a further utility bill. This is a further imposition on low and middle income earners, following on from the household charge, increases in VAT, the USC and the health levy, all the while the wealthiest in society are not being asked to pay their way.
“There are currently considerable incidence of fuel poverty, and energy poverty. If water charges aren’t stopped many will soon be water poor as well, and this will take its toll on people’s welfare and health.
“Domestic water charges were abolished in 1996 for a good reason. The minister is seeking to pretend that this is for environmental purposes, and claiming that there is a need to charge for water.
“Domestic users already pay for their water in this state. It is paid for through central taxation. The introduction of separate water charges is an attempt to get the public to pay for their water twice, once in their taxes and at a second time through the water meter.
“Water metering does not reduce water consumption. In England, where water metering has been in place for many years, consumption is at 158 litres per head per day, while in Dublin the Dublin Water Supply Report of 2008 showed consumption is at 148 litres per head per day. It is not necessary to bring in water charges, as we can see in the north, where there are no such charges.
“While Fianna Fáil has expressed its opposition to the provisions of the bill, the reality is they signed up to water charges in the 2010 Programme for National Recovery.
“These parties are wedded to the politics of privatisation, and of indirect, flat rate taxes. Sinn Féin is totally opposed to water charges, and will be opposing the introduction of such charges.”