Article from the November 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

19% rate rise + Water Charges...

You're not on!

By Gary Mulcahy
CAN YOU afford to pay an extra 500 - 600 a year in rates and water charges? Northern Ireland Secretary for State Peter Hain thinks so. In fact, he thinks we're getting it easy at the moment!

Hain believes we should be punished for the delay in the introduction of water charges until April 2007 by a whopping 19% rate rise and cuts in all public services.

He accuses working people here of not paying our fair share. In comparing the amount paid by householders in Britain in local taxation to what we pay here, he chooses to ignore the very big differences in prices and wages between Britain and Northern Ireland.

According to Hain: "Average local household contributions (including water charges) to pay for services in England and Wales this year will be 1275; in Scotland 1205; yet in Northern Ireland only 546."

He forgets to mention what we pay to private companies for essential goods such as electricity, gas, oil and food. Prices for all these essentials are a lot higher here than in Britain. Households in the North pay on average 265.20 a year more on fuel than households in Britain. We pay 213 more on food. And we pay 413.60 more on clothes and shoes. Also our wages are on average19% lower than in Britain.

The real spongers are the vulture-like private companies who are taking over the water service and the New Labour well-heeled, direct-rule Ministers who have handed this service over to the profiteers.

Over 270 million in contracts have already been handed over to multi-national companies, including some of the water companies based in England. These companies will cut corners and will inevitably cut back on the needed investment in order to make as much profit as they can.

They want to see water charges brought in so they can make super-profits when they take the service over completely. In Britain, 4.7 million households are in debt to the water companies. These fat-cats, who have made political financial donations to New Labour, are the real spongers.

We need to organise now to defeat Hain's water charges. The Socialist Party is heavily involved in building the We Won't Pay Campaign which is organising mass non-payment of water charges. The Campaign is getting an excellent response and the target of signing 10,000 people to the non-payment pledge is close to being reached.

But the Campaign needs to go way beyond this target if water charges are going to be defeated. If you would like to get involved in the battle against water charges, you can join the We Won't Pay Campaign by contacting 90311778.

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