Belfast Telegraph

Household tax threat 'outrageous'

Government threats to withdraw public services where the household charge is not paid are an outrageous attack on the poor, it has been claimed.

Socialist TD Joe Higgins warned the Fine Gael-Labour coalition will not get away with plans to allocate funds to local authorities depending on how much money each took in from the 100 euro levy.

"If they go along these lines they will be encouraging massive social dislocation and further social inequality. It will simply not be permissible," said Mr Higgins.

"There will be an outcry, an upheaval against that. It will be outrageous."

Environment Minister Phil Hogan hinted over the weekend that he would reward authorities that pulled out all the stops to collect outstanding registration payments. Mr Higgins said poor areas will suffer further as a result.

The Dublin West TD, who has led a campaign against the household charge along with eight other TDs from the Technical Group, also accused the Government of continuing to manipulate registration figures to save face.

The Government has said all along it hopes to raise around 160 million euro from the charge - money that will fund public services, including libraries, parks and pathways.

The Department of Environment said over 800,000 households had registered by Sunday night, which it claimed surpassed the half-way mark based on 1.6 million householders eligible to register.

But Mr Higgins argued that 1.8 million are actually required to register and 1.75 million required to pay, which means that only 45% have actually registered and not half. His figures come from NUI Maynooth academic Professor Rob Kitchin who made the calculations based on Central Statistics Office data released last week.

He said: "Saying it has passed the half-way mark is just another example of Government spin. The Government is all over the place with this shambolic charge. If you go by the real figures, 55% have not paid the charge."

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