€50 standing charge for water likely to be scrappedSaturday 03 May 2014 22.41
The Government is understood to be close to reaching a deal on water charges, which would see the controversial €50 standing charge eliminated.
It is hoped an overall agreement on the issue can be reached before next week's Cabinet meeting.
A €50 standing charge was to apply to all households regardless of usage and other allowances.
The Labour Party in particular had strong reservations about the charge.
The revised plan, which would be seen as a concession to Labour, will see the cost of water increase per litre for users.
Speaking this morning, Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said that the average water charge for households will be around €240 per year.
While not commenting on the specifics of the proposal, he said there will be a fair system for those who are less well off.
The Cabinet has yet to finalise details of a package for those in receipt of social welfare.
People Before Profit Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett said that "people shouldn't be fooled by Labour's pre-election political gymnastics" in relation to plans to eliminate the standing charge.
"What we want to hear from the Labour Party is that they are abandoning water charges, not fiddling around with it," he said.
"Once water charges come in they will go up and up and ordinary families that already can't pay their bills will be fleeced," he added.
Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said it is the Government's intention to make water charges as fair as possible while also encouraging people to reduce the amount of water they use.
Speaking of the negotiations between Fine Gael and Labour to reach a deal he said: "There was more than one concession, the standing charge will be gone and there are also concessions for people that are disadvantaged, older people and people with medical conditions."
A government spokesperson, while not commenting on the details of the revised plan, said today: “The parties are united in their approach, for fairness and affordability" and it is expected that "good progress" in finalising the deal will be made at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.