Changes to Water Charges and Water Conservation Payments

Please note – this article relates to Nov 2014.

See here for the most recent articles about Water Charges in Ireland

Nov 2014:Changes to the Water Charges are  expected to be announced today by the Government.

They are hoping these changes will mean an end to protests and an acceptance of the charges.  But – are the changes going to be enough?
Under the original proposals a single pensioner would end up paying a maximum of €76 a year (€176 charge less €100 water support payment). After the latest changes the same person will pay a net charge of €60 a year. Just €16 less.

The original rates for the Water Charges were agreed and published by the regulator  back in September and took effect from October 1st 2014. The charges  were based on a metered  rate  of €4.88 per cubic meter with free allowances of 30,000 litres per household and 21,000 litres per child (on Child Benefit).  (These figures are for homes with both a water supply and waste water service from Irish Water). Metered charges could have run into several hundred euro  a year for some households  – see some estimated metered charges here .

Unmetered homes were due to be billed an “assessed charge” of €176 a year for a single adult household – with an extra €102 on top for each additional adult in the house. (For both supply and waste)  Those with meters would have their bills capped for 9 months at these “assessed” rates – (i.e if the metered bill worked out less they would be charged less).
A  €100 a year  “water support payment ” was also planned to be made to all people on the household benefits package or the fuel allowance . There was also going to be a water income tax credit of up to €100 a year.

Now .. after weeks of protests , bad press and pressure from opposition politicians – it seems  there are going to be some changes to the Water Charges. The government will not want to reduce the expected income of Irish Water by too much  – nor will they want to be seen to overule the regulator’s  agreed figures .

Firstly – it is seems that the start date of the Water Charges will now be January 1st 2015 – and not October 1st 2014.

Secondly  – there is going to be a new €100 annual social welfare payment called the “Water Connservation Payment“. This will not be a means tested payment,  anyone who is a registered with Irish Water can get  it -but people will have to claim it from Social Welfare (Dept of Social Protection) it won’t be automatic .
It is going to be  €100 a year – paid in 4 quarterly amounts of  €25 , with only one claim per household allowed.
This new  Water Conservation payment will replace the the €100 Water Support payment that was going to be made to people getting Fuel Allowance or the Household Benefits Package. proposed water tax credit (From Budget 2015) and will also replace
Not everyone will probably claim this payment , wealthier households may not  bother filling out forms for the sake of €100.

Assessed Charges (Unmetered)

Thirdly – It  appears there will be changes to the levels of  “assessed” charges for unmetered homes. The government are going to set a maximum “assessed” water charge per household of €260. The charge for a single person household  will be €160.

After the “water conservation” payments are taken into account – it will result in a net annual cost of €60 for a single adult household  and €160 for households of 2 adults or more . (Just over €3  a week)

Capping of Metered Charges – It looks like there is  going to be a long extension to the time period that applies to the capping of metered bills. As mentioned above – the original plan was that ,  for the first 9 months of having a meter , homes with meters would not be charged any more than the “assessed” charge for their household size. But – if their water usage resulted in a lower bill than the assessed charge – then they would pay the lower amount.
It seems that this period of capping the  metered bills could be extended from 9 months to as much as 2 or 3 years. (Probably till after next election).

Note that  metered homes using less water than the “assessed” levels will be billed less.

We will update this article with any definite  changes as soon as they are announced.