Panda Waste were criticised by Patrick Nulty TD (Lab) over the announcement it would be introducing a €55 annual fee

Panda Waste have rejected claims that they are abandoning the waiver scheme for pensioners and the unemployed in Fingal, saying they have no obligation to offer the scheme but did so for over a year.

John Dunne, manager at Panda said criticism from politicians who say the company are abandoning the waiver scheme for Dublin 15 householders is unfair.

“We are under no obligation to offer a waiver to anyone – that is a local authority, social welfare issue,” he said.

The company wrote to waiver recipients in Fingal on November 16 to inform them that a €55 annual fee for the service will be implemented as of January 1, 2013.

In reaction, Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty condemned the move saying Panda are showing “a clear lack of social responsibility” by imposing charges on struggling households.

Mr Dunne said Panda recognises the hardship residents are going through and so at their “own cost” they are giving a 50% waiver to existing customers on the scheme. “There is a big difference between a TD saying Panda are abandoning waivers, in fact we are giving waivers. We are continuing a waiver scheme – a reduced waiver.

“We took over in November last year from Fingal and one of the conditions was that the waiver would be maintained for 12 months. We didn’t just maintain it for 12 months, we kept it for 14 months – including November and December.

“We did try to get the local authority to share the burden with us, we tried with local government. There was a policy in the Programme for Government to introduce a national waiver scheme, that hasn’t happened.

“We are taking the hit here… we don’t have to do it, but we are doing it. [Customers] have been written to in plenty of time. There are about 15,000 waivers in Fingal – that is a huge amount,” he added.

Deputy Nulty believes the entire waste management policy for some years has been “to turn quality public service into a ‘for profit’ monopoly benefiting the owners of private waste collection companies not citizens”.

“The Government have rushed to introduce unfair local taxation yet Minister Phil Hogan does not seem to have the same impetus to implement a national waiver scheme for low income households – which is a commitment in the Programme for Government.”

“Urgent legislation is needed to ensure that the charges and service of these unaccountable private operators is brought into line,” he continued.