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Wednesday 23 July 2014

Families left without water meters must pay €72 extra

Fionnan Sheahan and Paul Melia

Published 17/04/2014|02:30

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Many questions about water charges remain unanswered
Many questions about water charges remain unanswered

Families living in a house without a water meter will be forced to pay up to €72 more in their water bills under government plans, the Irish Independent can reveal.

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Almost one million people will not be able to reduce their bills by conserving water – because meters will not be fitted by the time the first bills land in January.

Details of the impact of water charges on average families also reveal a couple living in a modest home without a meter will pay the same rate as a large family in a lavish residence with multiple rooms but also without a meter.

Under the unmetered system, the bill for an upmarket terraced home in Dublin will be more than €100 less than a detached house in the country.

A family of four on a meter will pay €248 a year in water charges when bills start to arrive next year, as revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent.

But the same size of family living in a detached home with no water meter will pay €320.

Annual bill for houses where meters cannot be installed will be based upon the type of property – terraced, semi-detached, or detached – and not the number of people living in it.

What this means is a two-up, two-down terraced house will incur the same charge as a large terraced property in some of Ireland's most famous addresses.

"Take Sorrento Terrace in Dalkey. People on millionaires' row will pay the same as someone in a small terraced house. The flat charge will be for 75pc of houses," a government source said.

Details of the the water charges were thrashed out yesterday at a cabinet meeting which quickly became heated, with a clear rift between Fine Gael and Labour.

The Irish Independent can reveal that under the new regime a single-person household with a meter can expect to pay €160. However, a single- person household without a meter will pay €186.

VULNERABLE

The bill for an unmetered terraced house will be €213, while the bill for a semi-detached home will be €266, and a detached house will be €320.

In a household with a meter installed, a certain free allocation will be provided depending on the number of people living there.

A single person and a couple will receive the same free allowance of water – 82 litres a day.

As revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent, this is the equivalent of a shower, brushing your teeth and two flushes of the toilet.

However, a single person will use 213 litres of water a day and a couple will use 316 litres.

The free allowance for children is far higher at 104 litres a day, which the Government estimates is the level of daily usage by children.

A higher children's allowance is designed to prevent families with children from being hit with large bills.

The free allowance for children is also expected to cater for parents on low incomes.

But the Government failed yesterday to reach agreement on the water charges regime, and some additions to the package are expected.

A number of measures to deal with vulnerable groups are expected, including an extension of the living alone allowance or an exemption from the standing charge, which is worth €50 a year.

Those with medical needs will also be able to apply for an extra allowance.

When the first water charges bill drops in January, three quarters of houses will still be on an assessed charge as water meters won't be installed yet.

Around 400,000 water meters will be fitted in homes by the end of the year, despite some 1.35 million people being hit with a bill.

Instead of customers paying bills based on usage, the vast majority will be forced to pay based on estimated consumption.

Irish Water has been installing meters at a rate of 27,000 a month since last autumn and expects to install 1.05 million meters in homes by the end of 2016.

The number of meters

The number of meters installed

* North-west (Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon and Mayo): 18,440.

* West (Limerick, Clare, North Tipperary and Galway): 16,179.

* South-west (Cork and Kerry): 16,204.

* Dublin City: 23,927.

* Midlands (Wicklow, Kildare, Laois and Offaly): 23,477.

* County Dublin: 33,350.

* South-east (Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow and South Tipperary): 16,929.

* North-east (Meath, Westmeath, Louth, Longford, Cavan and Monaghan): 21,609.

Irish Independent

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