Freeze on water pipe charges to help firms

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The Consumer Council has welcomed Northern Ireland Water’s freeze on the main water and sewerage charges faced by the majority of NI businesses.

NI Water has announced there will be no change to non-domestic water and sewerage charges.

From April 1, 2016 charges will hold at the 2015/16 levels. Trade effluent charges however, will increase by 2.8 per cent.

The decision to freeze measured and non-domestic unmeasured tariffs will mean nearly 80,000 non-domestic customers will benefit from a ‘real’ reduction to their water and sewerage charge.

NI Water Director of Finance and Regulation, Ronan Larkin said: “NI Water’s ability to hold water and sewerage charges for 2016/17 at the same levels as 2015/16, is testament to our continued efficiency while improving services, and investing in essential infrastructure. “Ideally we would have liked to have held the trade effluent costs which will rise by 2.8 per cent, however, these customers are also predominately measured water and/or sewerage customers, and as such will still benefit.”

The Consumer Council’s Head of Water Policy, Graham Smith said: “Prices for metered customers have been frozen. Businesses without a meter may see their water bills change as their property’s Net Annual Value (NAV) changes.

“NAV is used to calculate water bills if you don’t have a meter. Most increases will be small but some will see their water and sewerage bills rise by over £100.

“Our advice to any business affected is firstly to check the NAV with Land and Property Services, then talk to NI Water about switching to a meter or getting an Assessed Charge, which is a charge based on the water-using appliances in the business.

“The Consumer Council will also closely monitor tariffs to ensure that NI Water customers are not paying for services they are not receiving, or indeed paying the same for a declining service.”