Cabinet reaches deal on water charges

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has confirmed that the coalition parties have reached an agreement on water charges.

The finishing touches will be agreed this morning after the Environment minister Phil Hogan indicated a deal had been reached last night.

The proposed deal will mean the standing charge is scrapped, while certain homes will be given a larger free allowance than others.

It is three weeks since a Cabinet meeting ended in disarray with no deal on the shape of the water charges regime.

However, last night Phil Hogan said a deal had been reached and that Fine Gael and Labour were now agreed on how much Irish households should expect to pay from October.

As expected, the standing charge is abolished - and as previously indicated, the average bill will remain at around €240 a year - with every household getting a free allowance linked to the number of children living there.

The Government has also agreed that the disabled, pensioners and carers will have an extra free allowance on top of that of roughly €100 a year.

Also, instead of pushing up the average charge for everyone else, that allowance will come out of the social welfare budget.

Final details, and any special allowances for families who'll struggle to afford the bills, are expected to emerge after Cabinet this morning.

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