Homeowners are set to lose out on the €100 water conservation grant.
A report in today’s Irish Examiner claims the grant has been “shelved” for 2016 amid deep uncertainty over the future of Irish Water.
The utility is understood to be the primary stumbling block in an attempt to form a new government with Fianna Fáil looking to secure the suspension of water charges in order to support a minority Fine Gael government.
Fianna Fáil last night rejected a Fine Gael offer of a suspension of water charges for a period of six to nine months for the second time in three days as “woefully insufficient”.
The Irish Examiner has learned that the order to release the funds to pay the €100 conservation grant has been delayed since January, and according to sources, it will not be signed.
The scheme which cost €94m to run last year was expected to cost €110m this year, and a figure of €110m has been provided for in the 2016 Revised Estimates for Public Services.
While the Department of Social Protection pays the money to homeowners, it requires an order from Environment Minister Alan Kelly, in order to release the funds. Mr Kelly has not given the order and is unlikely to do so, given the current state of chassis.
Statutory regulations must be made under Section 5 of the Water Services Act 2014 to set down the particulars of any 2016 Water Conservation Grant Scheme, including the application process and eligibility criteria.
“The regulations haven’t been presented to the minister,” a Department of the Environment spokesman told the Irish Examiner.
“The Department of Social Protection is ready to pay out the funds, but Kelly and his department won’t give the order,” said one minister. “In a climate where Irish Water’s future is in doubt and charges look like they are being suspended, the order won’t be given. They are shelved it seems.”