Revealed: €100 water relief plan for unemployed
THOUSANDS of welfare recipients will receive €100 from the State to offset the cost of water, the Herald has learned.
Coalition leaders have agreed a series of new relief measures aimed at assisting the long-term unemployed and other social welfare recipients with the cost of their water bills.
The move will see thousands of householders receive €100 per year in four equal payments through the extension of the Department of Social Protection-administered Household Benefits Package.
The plan was agreed by the Government's Economic Management Council (EMC) on Thursday night - less than 48 hours before at least 50,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate against water charges.
The Herald has learned that a further demonstration is being planned for November 1 in hundreds of towns across the country.
The huge event on Saturday shocked government figures who were taken aback by the massive number of householders who flooded the streets of the capital. No arrests were made at the afternoon demonstration and gardai say organisers cooperated fully with their instructions.
Spokesperson for the Right2Water campaign, prominent Trade Union official Brendan Ogle, last night vowed to target the Government parties in the run-up to the General Election.
"These charges are the tipping point. I am absolutely convinced that we will get these charges revoked, maybe not in this Government's term but it will happen," he said.
"We will make sure that any government party who is not opposed to these water charges will face tough questions on the doorsteps during the election campaign," he added.
Mr Ogle shot to prominence as a union official representing the ESB workers during their pension dispute with management.
At one point during the row, he claims to have received a death threat.
The Mandate official said that the Right2Water campaign will now assist in the organisation of a network of protests locally on November 1.
"This is a sea change, make no mistake about it," he said.
The decision to introduce a series of new water relief measures in the Budget will be welcomed by hard-pressed families, particularly the long-term unemployed.
According to the CSO, there are currently over 178,000 people who are deemed out of work for over a year.
Other social welfare groups, other than pensioners and carers, will also be in line for the relief measure, government sources say.
Dan White: Page 14