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Water charges will force low income families into poverty: Stanley

7 February, 2013 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community & local government, Brian Stanley TD, has today warned that the government’s proposed water charges bill “will force low income families into poverty”.
Deputy Stanley said: “The government’s Water Services Bill will force families further into poverty with its power to charge households for water from 1 January 2014.
“The current proposal to install water meters and charge household for water was dreamt up by Fianna Fáil and brought to life by Fine Gael and supported by the Labour Party.
“This bill is far reaching and draconian. It establishes Irish Water as a subsidiary of An Bord Gáis Eireann, a company which this government intends to sell.
“This new company will be given power to install water meters and then charge families for the water they use. This charge means the public will be paying three times for the water they drink.
“Firstly in their general taxes, secondly through this new charge and finally they will pay through the National Pension Reserve Fund which is being used to fund the installation of water meters. Experts, including the Local Authority Professional Officers have given estimates of €1.2 billion to cover the cost of the installation.
“Sinn Féin supports the introduction of district metering instead of putting water meters in every household.
“Research in Britain shows that ‘large water bills in relation to income have the potential for causing significant deprivation.’ Yet the government bill, despite international evidence, does not even attempt to protect low income families and those who would be seen as vulnerable.
“In Denmark, with a similar population of 5.4million, water metering is in place and in 2007 the average cost was €715 per household.
Sinn Féin agrees that we need a co-ordinated approach on the island towards ensuring that water is brought to where it is needed, when it is needed. And indeed homes and communities are protected against the adverse effects of flooding from too much water.
“Sinn Féin proposes investing money from the National Pension Reserve Fund in creating real jobs that have a positive legacy. The money being wasted on meters should be invested in upgrading an aging, leaking water distribution system.
“The €500m referred to in the bill would fund the water conservation strategy for six years. It would be far more appropriate to invest this €500m in water conservation rather than meter installation.”

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