Committee likely to recommend water charge refunds

Labour's Joan Burton says the government needs to back people who complied with the law and paid charges in good faith

Committee likely to recommend water charge refunds

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An Oireachtas committee is set to recommend that people who paid their water charges should receive a full refund.

The group of 20 TDs is expected to finalise the contents of its report by Wednesday ahead of a Dáil vote due to take place in March.

The Irish Times has reported that the committee has reached agreement on a number of issues – including returning money to those who paid their bills.

According to the report, it is not known whether the refunds should come in the form of a cash payment, tax credit or some other system.

Speaking to the Pat Kenny show this morning, former Labour Party leader Joan Burton backed the proposals:

“People who in good faith paid their water charges and complied with the law; I think that that has to be recognised,” she said.

“The question then of how that might be refunded ... my guess is that the committee will probably pass on the detail of that and will ask somebody like the commissioner for energy regulation.”

The committee has reportedly agreed in principle not to pursue those who did not pay their bills - due to the costs attached.

It is believed the committee could propose an excessive usage charge for households deemed to be wasting water.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin said the key issue for the Committee has always been the question of whether domestic water charges will be abolished completely.

He claimed the idea of an excess charge is a “Trojan horse” which could be used to re-introduce water charges down the line.

He said Sinn Féin will vote for a total abolition - adding that the party believes water services should be funded through government borrowing and general taxation.

Water charges are currently suspended until April 1st – however the levies are technically due to return unless agreement can be reached by that date.