Saturday 21 April 2018

Q&A The row over charges

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

* Do we now know what water charges are going to cost?

No decision has been taken by Government yet, but statements from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and leaks from a cabinet memo to the Irish Independent give a fair indication of the figures.

* And what's the damage?

The average cost per home across the country will be €240. A family of two adults and two children will pay €248.

But householders in non-metered houses face a higher-than-average charge.

The cost for non-metered houses is based on whether the house is terraced, semi-detached or detached – it has nothing to do with the size or the number of people living there.

* How many houses will be metered?

Only about a quarter will actually have meters when water charges kick in.

* How far will the free allowance go?

The so-called free allowance is supposed to cover all of the water used by a child, about 40pc of the water use of a single person and a quarter of the water use by a couple.

* How much will water cost thereafter?

€2.30 per 1,000 litres.

* Will there be help for poor people to pay their bill?

Nothing has been decided yet, but there are proposals being looked at, such as an extra amount on the living alone allowance for people on fixed incomes.

Alternatively, there is a possibility of exempting those on low incomes from the standing charge of €50.

But there is unlikely to be an extra social welfare payment as the Government doesn't want to create another poverty trap.

* Will the water charges go up each year?

Water charges will be fixed for 2015 and 2016 and it is not clear thereafter.

The Government subvention will be €537m a year, which plays a huge role in how much water charges will be thereafter.

From 2016 onwards, it will then be up to the Government to decide how much of a subsidy it should give to Irish Water.

* What will the standing charge be?

The standing charge will be €12.50 per quarter, so €50 a year. Still 20pc of the bill, quite high internationally, but an Irish Water demand for 33pc was slapped down following a public outcry.

Irish Independent

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