SF dispute claims that 70% paid €100 levy

Environment Minister Phil Hogan was accused of “spinning into the new year” over his claim that 70% of eligible homes have paid the household charge.

Final figures for the year show that a total of 1.126m properties registered for the charge — including 22,334 waivers — which saw €113.35m collected in revenue for local authorities sine it was introduced in January.

However, Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley said the figures include those who are exempt or entitled to waivers, so “there is a certain amount of spin involved”.

He said a 30% non-payment rate represents a defeat for the Government and said the handling of the charge has been a disaster.

Earlier, Mr Hogan defended his handling of the charge and hit out at those who said people would not pay when the €100 charge was introduced in January. “How wrong they were,” he said.

Mr Hogan said anyone who did not pay the household charge this year is urged to hand over the payment by the end of April, when it will be capped at €130 including arrears.

From Jul 1, any outstanding household charge will be increased to €200 and added to the local property tax due on the property.

Mr Hogan “commended” the households who had paid: “We had elected representatives who actively encouraged people to break the law and not pay the charge.”

“These self-same people are calling for more funding for local authorities and at the same time encouraging people not to pay.”

Mr Stanley said that, out of those household who have already paid, “many are extremely angry at this charge”. He said ordinary households will see this cost treble or quadruple when the permanent property tax is introduced from Jul 2013.

“This is coming on the back of a budget that dipped into the pockets of low-income workers and those on social welfare and carers,” he told RTÉ Radio.

The new tax will be set at 0.18% of the property value, rising to 0.25% for homes worth more than €1m.

This will see the owner of a home worth the national average of €157,400 paying nearly €300 a year.

Homes with a certain level of pyrite damage will be exempt, as well as homeowners earning less than €15,000 and those living in ghost estates.

Mr Stanley said the exemptions do not go far enough. “Labour and Fine Gael have put this charge on people who are blind, people who are seriously disabled, pensioners,” he said. “They have put it on people regardless of ability to pay.

“People are really quivering at the prospect of this, facing into the new year, people are facing into a very difficult situation.”


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