Opposition politicians and campaign groups have described the water charges subsidies and tax relief as outlined in yesterday’s budget as the response of a panicked government to recent protests.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced that income tax relief will be available at the standard rate of 20% in respect of water charges up to a maximum of €500 per household per year. The €100 water subsidy available to those in receipt of the Household Benefits Package is being extended to all homes on winter fuel allowance. The Government predicts that this will see some 653,000 households get the subsidy.
Fianna Fáil spokesman on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea, said that any perceived concessions in this year’s budget will be further eradicated by water charges.
“I am pleased to note that Minister Burton has adopted Fianna Fáil’s suggestions to extend the €100 water credit to fuel allowance recipients and to increase the Living Alone Allowance. While these measures are welcome, they fall far short of what is needed to support unemployed people, low income families and older people,” Mr O’Dea said.
People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, described the subsidy as “a bailout” for Irish Water.
“After the massive protest on Saturday there is no good reason not to continue to mobilise against water charges. The revolt against this unfair charge is certain to continue and the government will get its response to its budget from the numbers of people on the streets in towns and cities all across the country on 1st November,” Mr Barrett said.
The Right2Water campaign said that they will continue to protest the imposition of water charges, despite the measures outlined in the budget.
“Even before the first water bills flutter through letter-boxes, the Government’s water charges policy is a shambles. It’s time for them to admit defeat, abolish the charges and go back to the drawing board,” a statement from the group read.
Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, an independent charity that works older people living in deprivation, said the allowance will make little difference to those dependant on the State pension.
“Despite this €100 allowance, older people who survive solely on the State pension, will still have to pay for water with no increase to their income, this will be a real struggle for many older people,” he said.
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