Water Charges in 2018

What is going to happen to Water Charges in 2018 ?

  • Water charges were introduced in Ireland back in January 2015 – but it didn’t last very long .
  • After plenty of protests and political bargaining –  the Water Charges were eventually suspended in July 2016 for 9 months while an “expert group” looked into what to do next.
  •  In April 2017 – the suspension of charges  was extended again until July 2017 so that the recommendations of the “experts” could be considered by the politicians .
  • A third (and final ?)extension of the suspension of water charges until 31st Dec 2017  was put in place in July 2017.

So – unless there are further suspensions – Water Charges will no longer be suspended from January 2018 

Water Charges from January 2018 
(Updated Sept 25th 2017)

Under the proposed new legislation –  ongoing domestic charges for “normal” use of water will be stopped – but any household using  amounts of water over a specified threshold will be charged for water usage that exceeds that threshold.
*
The threshold and the actual charge rates per litre are yet to be confirmed

The monitoring of people’s usage under the new charging regime is due to begin in 2018 and they will be monitored for a full year to the end of 2018.

Those households who are identified as using water above this threshold will then be notified at the beginning of 2019. They will be given a six month period during which they can reduce their water usage. If they haven’t done that by the end of the six months they will  then be charged for any usage above the threshold for that six month period and any ongoing usage over the threshold.

The first “excessive usage” water charges will be due to start around July 2019.



What is the Threshold ?

The threshold  figure proposed in the legislation is  1.7 times the average household water usage.
The average household usage figure to be used in working out this threshold  has yet to be decided. It will be determined after a review by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities  : CRU (The new name for the Commission for Energy Regulation) .See below for our estimate of the threshold.


 

Average Water Usage:


Average household water usage
figures from the CER for early 2016 (excluding known leaks) was 103,000 litres a year (103 cubic metres)
So – if
  103,000 litres was the average usage figure to be used to calculate the threshold  – then the  threshold  level for “excessive” use  would  be  175,000 litres a year (175 cubic metres).

Based on CER figures – only about 9% of metered households currently exceed this threshold and could therefore expect to be asked to pay water charges for usage above the threshold.

It should be pretty difficult for households of less than 3 people to exceed this threshold – unless they are watering a large garden all the time or bathing 3 times a day.

To reach the threshold of 175,000 litres a year  – a household of 3 or more people would  probably need to be  making daily use of a washing machine, having daily baths or daily use of a power shower and making regular use of a hosepipe or sprinkler and frequent use of water throughout the day.


Allowances for Larger Households :

There will be extra water allowances that can be claimed for households with 5 or more people. This extra allowance will be given for each person over and above 4 people.
So – for example , based on the estimated figures ,  if the allowance was 20,000 litres  per person then a 5  person household would have a total water usage threshold of 175,000 plus 20,000 = 195,000 litres.
A 6 person household would have 215,000 litre threshold.
The extra allowance will not be automatic – households will need to “claim” it if they are warned that they are exceeding the basic threshold. (Proof may be required of the number of occupants.)

The exact level of this extra occupancy water allowance will also be determined by the CRU in the coming months.

(Note: About 27% of households have 5 or more people – which is about 218,000 households .)


What Will The Water Charges Be?

We assume there will be a simple charge rate per litre over and above the threshold (and any additional allowances).   A figure that was used in some sample calculations by the CER was €3.70 per 1000 litres . So , if this was the charge rate , a household using 50,000 litres of water over the annual threshold would be billed €185 in water charges for the year. (These are indicative figures only)

The government says that homes will still continue to be metered and meters will still be read at least every quarter so that any home using excessive amounts of water can be identified.
It is not clear how unmetered homes can be charged for any excessive use – because their usage will just not be known.

Refunds of Water Charges:   Update Sept 2017 :Latest on  Refunds of Water Charges

water conservation grant ireland

 

Claiming Winter Fuel Allowance

The Winter Fuel Allowance payment was increased to €22.50 from January 2016 – as announced in Budget 2016.

The winter fuel allowance scheme operates for 26 weeks. This year it will run from the 2nd October 2017 to  Friday 31 March 2018 .  That is a total of €585.
If you apply for the Fuel Allowance after  2nd October 2017  – it will not be backdated.

NEW:   it has been announced that from October 2017  claimants will have the option of getting the Fuel Allowance  in 2 lump sums instead of weekly.  The lump sums will be €292.50 each and the first will be paid at the start of October and the second in January. More details of how to apply for 2 lump sums here.

The  Fuel Allowance is a payment under the National Fuel Scheme to help with the cost of heating homes. It is paid to people who are dependant on long-term social welfare or Health Service Executive (HSE) payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs.

About 410,000 people get this payment – so the total Winter Fuel allowance paid out nationally is around  €229 Million a year.
This payment is on top of any payment from the “Household Benefit Package” – under which about 400,00 people get €35 a month towards electricty OR €35 a month towards gas all year round. That works out at €420 a year . (Total of €177 million a year)

Someone getting both the Winter fuel allowance and the household benefit package could be getting €130 a month towards fuel costs during Oct to April.


Tip: Another way to cut energy bills is to take advantage of the discounts and cashback offers that most energy suppliers are offering to people who switch. You could easily save in the region of €300 to €400 in just one year .  See our page on the Cheapest Switching Deals



You may qualify for the winter fuel allowance if you are in receipt of any of these :

* Invalidity Pension * Pre-Retirement Pension * Disability Allowance

* Incapacity Supplement Widow’s or Widower’s (Contributory) Pension

# Widow’s (Non-Contributory) Pension

# Deserted Wife’s Benefit or Allowance

# State Pension (Contributory or Non-Contributory)

# State Pension (Transition)

# Blind Pension

# Prisoners Wife’s Allowance

# One-Parent Family Payment

You will not qualify for a Fuel Allowance if:

You live with someone who is not getting one of the qualifying payments for the Winter Fuel Allowance. Or

You are on a contributory payment and have weekly income above the means test limits (see below)

The assessable income limit in 2014/2015 for a single person under 80 is €330.30

The assessable income limit for a couple (where the qualified adult is under 66) is €483.80

The assessable income limit for a couple (where the qualified adult is 66 or over) is €536.60

Only one payment is paid to a household if there is more than one person that qualifies.

Application Form Here

For more details you can contact :  National Fuel Scheme , Social Welfare Services ,College Road , Sligo. Tel:(071) 915 7100  . See Here too

If you are on low income – you may also be eligible for financial help to get your home insulated or to upgrade your boiler.  See these articles for more details.

Get Free Insulation with the Warmth and Wellbeing Scheme

Grants towards the cost of a New Boiler

Other Ways to Cut Fuel Bills:
One sure way to cut your energy bills is to take advantage of the special discounts and cashback offers that most energy suppliers are offering to switchers.   See our page on the Cheapest Switching Deals

 

GAP Discount Code

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Free delivery on orders over €50

Visit the GAP Website here

GAP Discount Codes
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See more online shopping discounts available in Ireland here

 

Budget 2018 – What we Know So Far

Budget 2018 is due to be announced on Tuesday October 10th 2017.

The 2018 Budget will be overseen by the new Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe , who was appointed in June.

The government estimate , back in Feb 2017 , of the net “fiscal space” available for Budget 2018 was  €1.2 billion. But , whilst Budget 2018 is expected to allow for at least a  €1.2 billion “adjustment ” , the real room for manoeuvre could be as little as €300 million because of the carry over effects of some measures from Budget 2017.

In a speech on June 28th , Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pointed out that there is a  need to review existing spending programmes and if just 1% or 2% of the  €53 billion state expenditure could be re-allocated we would have another billion to use.  He called this the  hidden ‘fiscal space’.

What can we expect to be announced  in Budget 2018 ?

It’s getting closer   and here is our list pf some of the possibilites for Budget 2018

 

USC reductions – with possible balancing income tax increases for higher earners.   There could be the start of kind of  merger of the USC and pay-related social insurance (PRSI)  – which might mean more people paying PRSI but less paying USC.

USC for over 70’s – a decision will need to be made about the current reduced rate of USC . It will either be extended past it’s current end date of 2017 or allowed to end.

Income Tax – Currently, PAYE workers pay the higher rate of 40pc when their earnings reach €33,800.  There is the possibility of this threshold being increased.  An increase to €34,800 would cost €178m.
Reducing the 20% standard income tax  rate to 19%  might also be an option – this is estimated to cost about  €580 million.

Income tax bands have not changed since 2015 – so thery could be increased which would mean cuts in Income Tax .

Medical Cards :  Health Minister Simon Harris has hinted at a widening of the eligibility for medical cards – or at least GP visit cards. This might involve a raising of the income thresholds.

Further income tax reductions for the self employed by increasing the “Earned Income Credit” by at least €350.

Mortgage Interest Relief – we expect to hear details of how this will be extended for current recipients beyond the current 2017 end date.

Diesel : There will probably be a phased  increase on the excise duty  on Diesel to gradually bring it in line with petrol . This could increase the price by as much as 3c a litre in 2018.

A 2% cut to DIRT  – (as promised in Budget 2017)

Sugar Tax details are expected to be announced for the sugar tax to begin in  2018

Corporation Tax – No change from the current 12.5%

School Transport – possible changes to bus fares .

Welfare and Pensions
There will probably be small increases to pensions and benefits across the board.
A restoration  of the telephone allowance is also a possibility.
A new Working Family Payment was promised back in 2016 – so we finally expect to hear some details about this in Budget 2108

Land tax on vacant sites could be introduced to encourage house building.

Incentives for landlords – such as restoring the 100% mortgage interest deductibility  or simplifying tax rules on rental properties.

Possible Tax Incentives to encourage the building of affordable housing.

VAT – the IMF have suggested increasing VAT on items that are currently lower rated for VAT. Retailers are asking for a cut of 3% to the standard VAT rate. Maybe we will get both?

Property Tax – this could be increased ; it has remained the same since it’s introduction. (The IMF have suggested it could be increased). The planned revaluation date is 2019 .

VRT relief on electric cars – the €5000 cap on VAT relief might be increased or even removed .

Student Loans – this has been on the back burner for a couple of years. Maybe 2018 is the year it begins?

Updated Sept 18th

We will keep this page updated with any Budget 2018 related news as we hear about it.