Call for Kildare County Council services to be linked with household charge payment

There has been a call for parts of the county with a higher concentration of those who have paid their household charge to get a better service from the County Council.

There has been a call for parts of the county with a higher concentration of those who have paid their household charge to get a better service from the County Council.

Cllr. Tony O’Donnell was speaking yesterday, Monday, September 24, during a debate on the household charge at Kildare County Council’s monthly meeting.

However, at the moment the County Council cannot make such a determination because the information on who has and who hasn’t paid is not available to them.

The Fianna Fail group in the council had sponsored a motion calling for an amnesty for those who have not paid the charge. This was defeated by 16 votes to five in the chamber.

During the debate on the household charge, it was revealed that since September 7, when 59% of all households had paid the charge, there’s been a slight increase, with 60.1% or 41,000 households having paid it.

Council officials say that they need another 3,500 households to pay it by October 1 in order to avoid losing a services grant of €100,000. Those 3,500 extra households would bring Kildare up to a payment rate of 65%.

From October 1, the charge will go up to €127.

Speaking on the subject Cllr. O’Donnell spoke about draconian cuts that are due to come in the future.

And the Council’s Director of Finance Fiona Millane said there was a possibility of matching their database with the ESB database.

However, the council has rejected the possibility of linking the charge with the processing of third level grants to students.

At a meeting of the Kildare Area Committee last Wednesday, Councillor Fiona O’Loughlin described the decision by other local authorities to ask for a receipt of payment of the household charge with third level grant applications as “reprehensible”.

Clare County Council and South Tipperary County Council attracted headlines when they started refusing to process grant applications until the potential student’s parents had paid the Household charge.

“Students should not be targeted,” said Cllr O’Loughlin, adding that “councils do not have a right to deny grants” based on the failure to pay an unrelated tax.

- Conor McHugh, with additional reporting by Henry Bauress and Liam Godinho.