Farren weclomes decision to drop water standing charges
Issued : Tuesday 6 May, 2014
Labour councillor, Martin Farren, has said that local households will benefit from the scrapping of the standing charge under the agreement reached on water pricing this week and has welcomed confirmation of a suite of hardship measures for vulnerable groups that will ease pressure on many householders in Donegal.
“As a Labour representative, I am pleased that my party fought hard to ensure that the standing charge, ability-to-pay and adequate metering were taken into consideration when the final pricing structure was being decided. From the outset, we said that we had to get this issue right and we were not prepared to agree a package that did not adequately address the impact these charges will have on working families and certain vulnerable groups.
“The scrapping of the €50 standing charge has been achieved. There will be no standing charge – except for homes not permanently occupied, e.g. holiday homes. There are also hardship measures for pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, and those who have high water usage due to medical conditions.
“Key vulnerable groups such as pensioners, people with disabilities, carers, etc. will get an allowance of €100 per annum through the Household Benefits Package.”
“A Hardship Fund will assist those in difficulties through the Exceptional Needs Payment”.
“These were key Labour aims which we fought hard for at the negotiating table”.
“The average household charge will be €240. We are also supporting hard-pressed families by ensuring that every household will get a free allowance of 30,000 litres every year, and an additional allowance of 38,000 litres each year for every child under 18.
“Furthermore, there will now be an accelerated metering programme, providing for approximately 1.1 million meters to be installed by mid-2016, following our concerns that metering wasn’t happening fast enough. Meanwhile, every home will qualify for a ‘free first fix scheme’, providing each household with a free fix of the first leak on a water supply pipe. This is a positive development.
“Water charges is an issue that has been coming up on many doorsteps over the course of my election campaign, and clearly something that local people have been anxious about. Therefore I am glad that clarity has been provided on the matter issue and that we have agreed a package that is fair and reasonable, which helps people who have difficulty in paying the charge, not to mention encourage water conservation.”