Northern Ireland Water is putting up charges to its 80,000 non-domestic customers from April – the first price rise in three years.
The company said the increase would average out at 2.4%.
The main factor “dictating this increase” is a £14m rise, or doubling, of its rates bill, following a revaluation carried out of all local businesses last year.
In the previous two financial years, Northern Ireland Water cut its tariffs.
Businesses and farms pay bills, with the majority, around 70,000, being metered for their water use and sewerage services.
There is a difference between metered and un-metered customers…
The company gave examples of what the financial impact of the increase might be.
It said a medium factory which paid £3,282 last year would see the bill rise by 1.4%, or £45.
But customers without a meter, whose bills are partly based on the rateable value of the business, would face steeper increases.
It quoted a 6.4% increase for a small shop or office without a meter, taking the bill it quoted from £250 a year to £266.
The increases are necessary due to unavoidable external factors impacting on operating costs and the cost of necessary improvements to the water and sewerage infrastructure to meet standards and improve quality for customers.
NI Water is required to annually review the charges levied for water and sewerage services and agree them with the Utility Regulator in order that customers pay the fairest rate for the water and sewerage services they receive. The new charges, to be reflected in bills from April, follow the Utility Regulator’s decision on the prices NI Water should charge customers between 2015-21.
As for domestic customers, the BBC report notes
Northern Ireland Water also said it was committed to making £22m of savings over the next six years.
But with the company already having cut its workforce by a third from 2007, it said this will not involve further redundancies.
Stormont pays the company a subsidy of around £270m annually to off-set charging domestic customers. [added emphasis]
[Regardless of usage? – Ed] Or ability to pay…