Yet more on water charges… April 20, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
From the Irish Times:
Minister of State for Natural Resources Fergus O’Dowd said this morning people could control their bills for water usage by using less of it. “There were will be a standing charge of €40 every year, then a free allowance, and after that people will be in control of the water they use. The less water you use, the cheaper it will be for you,” he told RTÉ radio.
He said the country’s water infrastructure needed to be improved and that the Government hoped to raise €1.2 billion through the charges.
“The less water you use, the cheaper it will be for you.”
That’s alright then.
The assumptions behind this are telling, aren’t they? It has the same glibness that I recall from a conversation in 1989 when someone (coincidentally another member of Fine Gael) tried to convince me that the UK poll tax was equitable because everyone, whether an ordinary Joe or a Lord, paid the same.
But we know that individual circumstance dictates how much water is used. A larger family, an illness, and any of myriad other factors bear upon that usage. What’s so obvious is that in this brave newish world where there are ‘allowances’ and then flat rates, those who have significant incomes have least to concern themselves about. Whatever the costs they’ll be well able to cover them because clearly they’re not progressively scaled costs.
And by the way, this holds true of many other services from waste collection through to electricity. Those who can afford it will be little put out by the costs, those who can’t must simply try to get by.
In a way it strikes me that one of the areas that social democracy at its peak didn’t bother addressing was this sort of inequity. And that in an area where it could potentially have pushed forward it resiled. But then social democracy has, unfortunately, tended to be oddly hesitant once it moved beyond big ticket (and in fairness not unimpressive) achievements such as the NHS – though we never quite saw anything quite as spectacular on this side of the Irish Sea delivered by the local franchise of the SI.
Meanwhile, here’s a piece on the general topic of regressive charges from Michael Taft.
Key points? Well, unsurprisingly, ‘The impact of water charges is deeply regressive’. But what about this? ‘Regressive taxation made up approximately two-thirds of all taxation raised.’