Response to queries about standing charges for water

·        No decisions have been made yet about the level of water charges, including any standing charge.
·        The Government will make sure the charge is fair, equitable and it is anticipated that the combination of policy decisions by Government, and the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) consideration (including public consultation), will ensure that reduced consumption is incentivised and affordability issues are addressed in an optimum manner.
·        The CER will decide on standing charges, in line with any possible direction from Government, it will not be decided by Irish Water.
·        Irish Water’s proposals are merely part of the CER’s forthcoming consultation on tariff structure, which will commence shortly.
·        There will be plenty of visibility around the likely level of charges in advance of charging commencing in October, and public consultation on all decisions will form an important part of the decision-making process.

Further points re Irish Water:

· It costs about €1.2 billion per year to run our current water system, with most of this funding coming from State sources.
· Even at this cost to the taxpayer the water network has suffered from severe underinvestment by previous Fianna Fail Governments who wanted an easy political life over providing for the future needs of Irish households and businesses.
· Not only do enhanced water services benefit individual householders, but they attract industries with high water usage.
· With global demand for water due to rise by 40% in just 20 years, Ireland will be well positioned to attract foreign and indigenous investment, creating real potential for new jobs.
· We are the last country in the EU and the OECD to charge domestic consumers for water.
· There will be a free allowance for every household. Govt have yet to determine the level of the free allowance.
· Charges will be based on usage above the free allowance. Households without a meter will be charged on an assessed basis, using a good proxy for usage, as determined by the CER.
· There will also be social supports for: households with affordability issues, large families and those with high water usage necessitated by medical conditions. Govt have established an inter-Departmental Group to report on affordability measures.
· The CER, following Govt policy decisions on the free allowance and social supports, and a public consultation, will approve the assessed and metered charges.