Theresa posed a question yesterday –
"… what are your thoughts on the Irish Water grant? People are rushing to sign up and claim their 100 euros but I'm thinking there may be long term implications here. Bad implications. Any thoughts?"
OK. Let's take a step back and take a dispassionate view.
What is this grant?
The gubmint are giving a hundred yoyos to anyone who asks for it. It is supposed to be a contribution to help people with water conservation. Now I'm not quite sure how €100 is supposed to help you use less water unless it's to install smaller baths, but it is sort of irrelevant as they aren't going to check up to see what you do with it. So essentially it's "free" money that you can do what you like with. Buy yourself a present. Buy ten packs of cigarettes. Give it to charity. It's yours to do what you want with.
Who gets it?
Anyone and everyone. All you have to do is ask for it.
Who pays for it?
The Irish taxpayer of course, so essentially they are just giving back a tiny fraction of what they've stolen.
Is there a catch?
Does a bear shit in the woods? Is the Pope a Catholic? Of course there's a fucking catch. If the gubmint starts throwing money at you for no reason there has to be a catch.
So what is the catch?
Very simple. To avail of this grant, you have to sign up with Irish Water. No ifs or buts: only customers of Irish Water can claim it.
For generations, most of us have received our water supply from the public mains. These were maintained by the local councils who frankly did a piss poor job. We paid for this service through our car tax and also a proportion of VAT receipts, so far from getting our water free, we were paying quite heavily for it.
At the behest of the EU, the gubmint created a company called Irish Water. They basically gave three reasons –
- We had been getting our water for nothing and we needed to pay for it.
- Massive investment was needed so they needed the income.
- By metering, they would help conserve water.
1 is a blatant lie as we were already paying.
2 is true – the system does need investment but if there is no funding then that is down to them not allocating the funds that we were already providing. Billing us twice is unjust and is just covering up their ineptitude.
3 – Water conservation? Hah! Firstly the vast majority of leakage and inefficiency is within the main trunk network and has little to do with householders' usage, so metering won't solve anything. And we must have one of the highest rainfalls in all Europe so there is no shortage of supply.
Irish Water is a company. It is doing everything in its power to build up a customer base to prove to Europe that it can stand on its own two feet. But as far as I am concerned, I do not have an account with that company. I have signed no contracts or given any sign that I recognise their existence. If there is no contract, they can't demand money from me, in the same way that Vodaphone or Calor Gas can't bill me because I have no contract with them either.
So how do they get me to sign that contract?
You've guessed it.
They offer me "free" €100 if I sign up. That €100 is the cheese in the mousetrap. Bite it and you're fucked.
Once you have applied for that grant you have recognised their existence. Thy now have your name, address and bank details. You are on the hook and there is no getting off.
But is being a customer of Irish Water such a bad thing? After all, it's only around €260 per year and they are giving us a cheque for €100 so it's less than €200?
First of all that cheque is a once-off payment so next year you pay the full whack. Now things aren't too bad until 2018, and that's where the fun starts. The cap on the charge expires then, and current estimates put the actual cost of billing at around €1,000 per year and that's without profit, so expect massive hikes in bills well in excess of the thousand mark.
Then we come to the real reason for the setting up of Irish Water. The three reasons above are only a public relations exercise. The real reason is that the EU want all utilities to be privatised and auctioned off to the highest bidder. A foreign company is only going to be interested in one thing – their profits. Well, actually they will be concerned about their profits, their shareholders and their bonuses, all of which you'll have to pay. The lowest thing on their priority list is the customer, because you are hardly going to refuse their service and go without water? Essentially they can charge what they like and you have no alternative but to pay.
That is the price you pay for that €100 "grant".