Kieran McCarthy, Alliance Party MLA for Strangford, has welcomed the announcement of a £30 million protection scheme, funded by Government, to provide a safety net against water poverty. This scheme will ensure that no one pays more than three per cent of their income on water bills. Mr McCarthy argues that this income protection should be applied to all.
Mr McCarthy said:
“Alliance welcomes the announcement of a Government-funded protection scheme, aimed at protecting those most at risk from water poverty.
“My colleague, Eileen Bell MLA, and I have been campaigning for a fairer form of water charging, considering that we already pay through our regional rates. In September, we stated that the delay in implementing the proposed water charges was an opportunity to halt the imposition of a new form of poverty to Northern Ireland, and we are pleased to see the Government provide some protection.
“However, the Government’s main plan is still to charge you on the value of your home, and this is unfair. Alliance has always argued that individuals should make an adequate — but not full — contribution for water and sewerage services, pay for what we use — to encourage conservation, and be based on ability to pay.
“Today’s Government announcement partly addresses the last of these points, that at-risk households pay no more than 3 per cent of their income on water bills. The same logic should be applied to everyone, and we will be making this point clear to Government.”