Water charges hiked in GB…

WATER charges are obviously a major issue in this election – but they’re also an issue across the, er, water in GB. Ofwat has announced that household water and sewerage bills will go up by an average of 7% in England and Wales in the coming financial year – pushing the average household bill up by £20 to £312. Under plans announced by the government for Northern Ireland, the average household will pay £115 at first, rising to £340 in three years. Does the similarity in the bills, however, disguise the many other factors at play?

  • smcgiff

    ‘Does the similarity in the bills, however, disguise the many other factors at play?’

    Hypocrisy? We may want to be as British as Finchley (or perhaps a more average area), just don’t make up pay for it.

  • time will tell

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  • DK

    Shows what to expect in the future. If we are to pay for water I don’t want it to be a monopoly – I want a choice like for the phones.

    Another basic utility run by a single private company will shaft the consumers to the hilt for as much as they can get away with.

    Remember Phoenix gas anyone….. 7% is a small rise compared to the hoofing they give the customers.

  • The Greens have some sympathy with Peter Robinson’s position set out in the Newsletter this morning. There can be little doubt that the Treasury ran rings round Durkan during the last Assembly mandate. However the truth is a little more damaging for all the parties represented on the Executive. In truth, the flood gates – that led to water charges – were opened after the Executive agreed the Reform and Reinvestment package. Ministers should have spotted Gordon Brown’s quid pro quo. Its worth considering now how much worse the situation will become when Brown and his control freaks at the Treasury move next door to No. 10.

    Socialist Gary Mulcahy, comes close to the truth of it in this piece:

    “On 2 May 2002, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair announced in Belfast the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative (RRI). First and Deputy First Ministers, David Trimble and Mark Durkan, had negotiated this deal on behalf of the Assembly Executive with the government, which would provide an extra £200million extended loan. The RRI however would only allow the Assembly to borrow extra cash from the Exchequer on the condition that it privatise public services and raise extra revenue from raising rates and introducing water charges.

    “Following the announcement of RRI, a consultation process on the Review of Rating Policy was initiated by the Assembly Executive, with responsibility being shared between the Department of Regional Development and the Department of Finance & Personnel. Both Departments, headed by Minister Peter Robinson (DUP) and Minister Sean Farren (SDLP) respectively, issued a consultation paper in May 2002 (they didn’t wait long!) which was agreed by the Committee for Finance & Personnel, chaired by Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy, and by all the Ministers in the Executive.

    “In this paper, proposals to increase rates and the introduction of water charges were presented. The last set of “Key Issues” deals with water charges. In this section, it states that people in Northern Ireland do not pay for water. It also states that people in Northern Ireland do not pay as much in taxes as people do in Britain. It continues to say that the RRI “could include water charges as well as the revenue from a reformed rating system”. The paper finishes with a question for consultation – “If, following consultation, it is agreed by the Executive and the Assembly to move towards the introduction of water charges, how might any water and sewerage costs be distributed among domestic consumers?” The paper then finishes with a list of options on how people should pay water charges.

    “Nowhere in the “consultation” paper did it allow for people to oppose the introduction of water charges. This means that the UUP, SDLP, DUP and Sinn Fein who agreed this consultation paper in the Assembly Executive, all agreed in principle to introduce water charges. A UUP document at the time stated “It is widely recognised that NI has the lowest household rates in the UK. Central government is no longer prepared to sustain subvention at current “Barnett” levels unless the Executive takes steps to address the rates imbalance with the rest of the United Kingdom. Water charging is the largely accepted way of doing so.”


    Peter Doran


  • lesh

    What’s the big problem with water charges?

    People should pay their way.
    NI is a big drain on the British tax payer – the more that is done to reduce the subsidy the better.

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