Kenny: Scale of levy will be clear by month’s end

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny said plans for a universal household levy would be decided at the end of the month after pressure mounted because of confusion over its introduction.

While Environment Minister Phil Hogan insisted the levy would come into effect at the start of next year, Mr Kenny refused to say when households would be hit with the charge.

The scale and nature of the flat-rate charge on homes would be considered and decided by Government at the end of this month, Mr Kenny said yesterday.

But both he and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore agreed that nothing was set in stone yet, despite Mr Hogan this week continuing to say January 1 was the start date for the charge.

Speaking in Dublin’s IFSC at a business conference, Mr Kenny said: “There’s no confusion here. The Government haven’t decided on this but it will be decided probably before the end of June. People will be made aware well in advance of what’s involved here.”

Mr Kenny pointed to the Programme for Government as well as the agreed EU/IMF bailout deal, which itself commits to implementing a household levy next year.

“The Government will make a decision on the scale and nature and timing of all of this inside a couple of weeks,” he said.

Mr Hogan has not said how much the flat household charge will be, which will be followed by water charges as agreed with the EU/IMF.

Mr Gilmore has seemed to distance himself from the planned household levy in recent days but yesterday also insisted there was no confusion over it, even though a decision was pending.

However, opposition parties gave a mixed response to the home levy announcements and the way they have been issued.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald compared the Government’s position to an episode of the television sitcom Fawlty Towers with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste in the role of Manuel, continually denying knowledge of what was going on.

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins said the household charge was another stealth tax.

Fianna Fáil have also claimed that indecision over the two planned charges has caused “utter confusion”.

The flat-rate household charge will eventually become a property tax once a nationwide valuation of properties is completed.

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