Thousands of children left high and dry without water allowance - Pearse Doherty TD
Sinn Féin’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has revealed that the Government’s promise, that every child under the age of eighteen living in the state will received a free allowance of water under Irish Water’s charging schedule, is not true.
Speaking today, Deputy Doherty revealed that thousands of children living in the state will not qualify for the free allowance under the current criteria. He also said that this has been confirmed by Irish Water who pointed to the government’s decision to link the allocation of the allowance to children in receipt of child benefit from the Department of Social Protection only.
“This government has consistently stated that the every child living in this state, who is under the age of eighteen, will receive a free allowance of water. This is simply not the case. It is not true.
“The reality is that, under the current criteria, thousands of children will not be able to avail of the free allowance. This includes over 4,000 early school-leavers for which parents are not in receipt of child benefit and the children of returning emigrants who do not meet the habitual residency test
“Furthermore, the children of families residing here who have a parent working in another EU state also may not qualify for what is a vital allowance. The issue here is that the payment of child benefit is the qualifying indicator for the allowance.
“Under EU rules, it is the state in which the parent is working that pays the child benefit and therefore children will not qualify in situations where a top-up is not being paid by the Irish state.
“This creates a particular issue on this island because of partition. A family with four children who has a parent working in the north, and who are not receiving the top-up, will be liable for a further €408 in water charges on top of their existing bill.
“This will see thousands of children being left high and dry by the government. They will be treated like second-class citizens and their parents could find themselves in financial distress as a result.
“I also think it is rather disgraceful that people who had to emigrate will receive such nasty welcome home from the government that forced them to leave in the first place.
“It shows once again that the government are being untruthful when it comes to the impact of water charges on ordinary families. Sinn Féin in government will abolish these unfair charges."