Almost 10,000 more disabled people could benefit from Water Charge Allowance through structure change
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The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is today urging Government to review the structure and management of water charges to avoid pushing people with disabilities into further poverty.
Serious concerns have been raised at the impact the proposed rate of €4.88 per 1000 litres of water, published by the Commission of Energy Regulation (CER) yesterday, will bear on families affected by disability. DFI is calling on Government to review how best to alleviate the inevitable hardship incurred for disabled people through water charges, before the transition period ends in 2016.
The organisation is seeking the €100 allowance through the Household Benefits Package (HBP), agreed by the Department of Social Protection, to be applied through the Fuel Allowance instead, as a targeted measure to protect vulnerable households affected by disability. A 2013 report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) indicates that distributing this subsidy through the Fuel Allowance would represent better targeting of poverty alleviation than doing so through the HBP.
John Dolan, Chief Executive of DFI, explained, “Access to clean, quality water is a human right, as is access to affordable water. People with disabilities and their families cannot be denied this, and must be reassured against the confusion and anxiety which persists around these costs. Delivering the €100 subsidy through the Fuel Allowance would instantly help almost 10,000 more of people with disabilities, and allow Government time to identify more viable, lasting solutions to easing the impact of this charge on disabled people before 2016”.
He concluded, “We hold several concerns over water charges and their impact on disabled people into the future; long-term consideration must be given to costs and medical need. Government must enact measures and lead in strong coordination across the various Departments and agencies involved in order to sufficiently protect people with disabilities and their families against the high costs of this vital resource.
Notes for editors
- Currently, 38,506 people in receipt of the Households Benefit Package also avail of Disability Allowance, while 48,182 people in receipt of the Fuel Allowance are also entitled to Disability Allowance.
- The 2013 ESRI Report, ‘Water Charges, Affordability and Poverty: Analyses for the Affordability Working Group’ of the Water Sector Reform Programme, can be accessed at http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/Environment/Water/FileDownLoad,38146,en.pdf
- John Dolan, Chief Executive of DFI 086 795 7467
- Allen Dunne, Deputy Chief Executive of DFI 086 850 2112
- Orlaith Grehan, Communications Assistant 01 708 0103