Campaigners against household charge set to offer free legal advice

Campaigners against household charge set to offer free legal advice

Just 61% of people have paid the household charge to date

Those fighting the controversial household charge are set to offer free legal advice to homeowners threatened with prosecution over their refusal to pay the €100 charge.

Shortly after the Local Government Management Agency threatened legal action if second warning letters are ignored, politicians opposed to the tax accused officials of bullying.

Mick Barry, a Socialist party councillor and spokesman for the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes, said threats of court action are intended to frighten people into paying.

“Threats to cut local services are also an attempt to bully people into paying,” he said.

“Local services are under threat because the Government has cut €170 million from local authority budgets. This money has been used to bail out financial speculators. Local services are being cut as a direct result of the Government’s austerity agenda.”

Just 61% of those liable for the charge have paid to date.

Paul McSweeney, LGMA chief executive, has warned that council services like disabled supports, street lighting, sports clubs, public parks, fire and emergency services, street cleaning and libraries could be dramatically cut unless all homes pay. The LGMA plans to send a second round of letters to non-paying homes in September.

Brian Stanley, Sinn Fein local government spokesman, claimed that the LGMA was acting at the behest of Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

“How much is it going to cost to haul such a huge number of people before the courts?” he asked. This unjust charge has been a complete failure in terms of revenue raising, yet the Fine Gael/Labour Government has made local government dependent upon it, fully realising that major cuts in services will result.”

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