Howlin says water costs will not drop, despite Siptu calls

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has said he does not envisage reducing the costs of water for households anymore despite demands from Siptu.

Mr Howlin also said he expects to engage with new pay talks with the public sector workers soon, with a goal to hammering out a deal before the next budget.

Speaking at Labour’s conference in Kerry, he responded to calls by Siptu president Jack O’Connor for a rise in the conservation grant for homes so their water is free.

Mr O’Connor said this should be introduced so that domestic users with normal water usage levels would ultimately face no costs.

The Coalition’s revised water charges scheme means a single adult household will pay €60, while a multi-adult household will pay a maximum of €160.

Mr Howlin explained: “That is as low as we can make it, consistent with passing the [EU’s] market corporation test which we are determined to be an important factor in allowing us to borrow the €600m that Irish Water will need to provide potable and sustainable water across the country and to deal with the incredible investments required to provide decent sewage systems.”

Earlier, Environment Minister Alan Kelly told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne on Saturday that he would consider changes to the conservation grant.

Mr Howlin also responded to suggestions yesterday that the pension levy should be the first thing reduced for public sector workers who had seen wage cuts in the recession. This was a remark made by Impact general secretary Shay Cody during a discussion on the recovery and jobs.

The minister said the public sector pay bill had now been reduced by €3bn annually.

He said he wanted to engage in talks with trade unions after the first quarterly economic figures become available to the Government and move to agree a new pay deal in time for the budget in October.


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