Statement on Waste charges
The dramatic increases in standing charges that some waste companies seem intent on imposing on customers from next month, were never envisaged when I signed the Statutory Instrument to give effect to the new charging structures.
In fact, I made it perfectly clear to the waste companies at the time, both in public and in private, that if there was any sense that they were going to exploit the situation by charging householders in general, more than they were already paying, then the terms and conditions of the Statutory Instrument would be revisited and revised to force their hands.
As far as I was concerned, this was always the sword of Damacles to be held over their heads, that would incentivise them to grow up as an industry. Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent weeks, they have failed to do so.
It seems to have been the plan of the waste companies to take advantage of the political vacuum that arose after the election, where there was no functioning Environment section in any relevant Government Department, and where changes to the pricing regime were being introduced, to further burden their customers.
I think we have now arrived at the point where further action is required, and I believe that Minister Coveney must now respond, by signing a new statutory instrument – one that restricts the standing charge that a waste company can impose on customers and that places greater controls on the other elements of the customers’ bills.
I’m not suggesting that there is commercial collusion taking place here – that of course would be a criminal offence – but it has become clear in recent weeks that competition in the waste market is not functioning properly and that a greater level of intervention from the state is required.
I would urge Simon Coveney to intervene to ensure that the waste companies can no longer gouge their customers, and if the Minister brings forward workable proposals in that regard, I will be happy to support them.