Water charges

Alan Kelly believes package will be regarded as 'fair by vast majority' of people

Rachel Flaherty Wed, Nov 19
LIVE: Water charges

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  • This event has now ended
  • 12:40
    Finally, after all the dripfeeding (sorry!) of information we will know this afternoon exactly what we will be paying for water. Will people be any happier after Alan Kelly unveils the Government’s plan? Stay with us as we find out.
  • 12:55
    The latest news from the Cabinet meetings at Government buildings today by Irish Times political reporters Mary Minihan and Fiach Kelly.

  • 13:00

  • 13:06
    Do you think the new water charges are fair? The effective charges for familiies will stand €160 a year. Single adult households will pay an effective €60 rate.
  • 13:11

    Do you think the changes announced today will be enough to stop people protesting on December 10th? I'm not so sure...


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  • 13:33
    Protests against the installation of water meters continue in Donaghmede today.
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  • 13:45

    Miriam Lord: "Enda Kenny is trying to do a Moses today."


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    Protesters gather outside Dail before announcement.

  • 15:05
    Speech about to start...
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  • 15:08
    Confusion as some members have the motion, others not.
  • 15:09
    Here we go...
  • 15:09
    Minister Alan Kelly: We as a Government have made mistakes but now we face a critical choice.
  • 15:09
    #Anger is never a good starting point for a key decision.
  • 15:10
    #We as a Government needed time to listen to the people and take stock and have done that.
  • 15:11
    #We are setting new capped annual charges. The capped charges will be €160 for single adult households and €260 for all other households until 1 January 2019.
  • 15:12
    #All eligible households will receive a Water Conservation Grant of €100 per year
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    #In cases where water is unfit for human consumption, the affected customers will receive a 100% discount on the costs of their drinking water supply for the duration of the restriction.
  • 15:13
    #The absolute maximum net cost is now just over €3 per week. For single households, it will be approximately €1.15 per week – Much less than one per cent of most people’s incomes or benefits and puts water bills among the lowest in Europe
  • 15:13
    #With a meter, households will have the opportunity to pay less than the capped bill and they can use the Water Conservation Grant to make changes to avail of lower charges
  • 15:14
    #Under these provisions, households that do not have a meter installed on 1 January 2015 will commence paying the relevant capped charge.  
  • 15:14
    Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly in the Dail this afternoon.
    Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly in the Dail this afternoon.
  • 15:14

    #If after moving to a meter, their consumption for the first year is less than the relevant capped charge, the household will be due a once-off rebate on the amount they paid before moving to a meter. This will be automatically calculated by Irish Water and normally applied as a once-off credit to the customer’s account. This means, colleagues, that a meter can only save a household money.

  • 15:15

    Room erupts after this statement.

    #We estimate that if metered households can reduce their water consumption by between ten and fifteen per cent, then approximately half of Irish households will be able to ‘beat the cap’ and have bills lower than the amounts outlined.

    In fact, some people will be able to get their bills below €100 and when taken with the water conservation grant – they will likely be slightly better off because of the introduction of water charges and meters.

  • 15:16
    "Those are the facts" repeats Alan Kelly.
  • 15:17
    #Households now have a fresh opportunity to register with Irish Water. If a household fails to register, they will receive a default bill for €260 per annum per dwelling.
  • 15:17

    As part of the transition phase, through funding provided by the Government, Irish Water will have a ‘First Fix Free’ Scheme to fix customer leaks from their front gate to as close as possible to the dwelling.

    Irish Water will be concentrating on their core role and services into the future. So there will be no call-out service or charge. If householders have an internal leak they will do what they always did – call a plumber.

  • 15:19

    No more PPS numbers needed!

    #The mandatory provision of PPS numbers to Irish Water by customers has been a source of particular concern to many people. In response, the Government has decided to discontinue this requirement. The new arrangements are based on self-declaration and appropriate audit.   PPS Numbers will not be required for registration.

  • 15:19
    #Irish Water will delete any PPS data already collected during the customer registration process.  
  • 15:20
    #The overall package of measures being put in place is designed to make water charges more affordable.   A range of easy pay options will be in place...
  • 15:21
    #I intend to legislate to remove the power to cut off or reduce the supply of water to premises where water charges remain wholly or partly unpaid. Instead, unless the customer enters into a payment plan, late payment penalites of €30 for a single adult household and €60 for other households will be added to bills 3 months following a   year of non-payment.
  • 15:21
    #Just to clarify the situation for some mixed-use customers that are both domestic customers and non-domestic customers of Irish Water. For example, an apartment over a shop or a house on a farm.   These households are billed separately for both uses with separate accounts.    

    The charging regime for non-domestic use will remain the same as applied under the relevant local authority until the regime is reviewed by the Commission on Energy Regulation. Local authorities are continuing to bill these customers as agents of Irish Water until a new regime is put in place.  

  • 15:22
    #An allowance is applied for domestic usage and deducted from the metered usage of the premises, so that no payment is made on the non-domestic account for domestic usage.
  • 15:22

    #The charge on the domestic usage account will be subject to the relevant capped charge for domestic customers depending on the household type.  

    Where the consumption through the meter would lead to a lesser domestic charge than the capped domestic charge, then the customer will be due a rebate on the same terms as other domestic customers.

  • 15:23

    #The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will work with the group water sector to produce a new investment programme lasting until the end of 2018 and to revise subsidy arrangements so they are aligned as far as possible with the approach to subsidy for public water schemes, but tailored to the particular circumstances of the group water sector.  

  • 15:23

    #Households in the group water sector who respond to the Irish Water customer registration campaign will be eligible for the €100 Water Conservation Grant.

  • 15:24
    To avoid any doubt, I want to be clear that it is the occupier of a premises who pays the bill.  
  • 15:25

    This statement has provoked reaction...

    I will be introducing legislation in this house allowing landlords to deduct unpaid water charges from their tenant’s deposits if neccessary.

  • 15:25
    #I will be insisting that Irish Water distinguishes between those who want to pay, but can’t, as opposed to those who refuse to pay.
  • 15:26
    #Irish Water will have the ability to apply the charge to a property in the event of non-payment following the passage of legislation.
  • 15:28
    During the period to the end of 2018, better data on consumption patterns for different household types will be gathered to inform future pricing arrangements and further cost efficiencies will have been secured.   The Government is determined that charges will always remain affordable.
  • 15:29
    • Average charges will continue to be kept low through on-going subvention to Irish Water.   The legislation which I will be bringing forward will ensure that charges post 2018 can be capped.
  • 15:29
    The Government has consistently stated that water services will remain in public ownership.
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    The Government believes that public ownership of water services is the will of the Irish people and I propose to legislate to ensure that if any future government sought to change this position, it would be required to put the matter before the people in a plebiscite.
  • 15:30
    I welcome the decision of the board not to proceed with their Performance Related Award mechanism for 2013 and 2014.
  • 15:31
    There are major issues around the quality of water supply and the capacity of the existing system to supply treated water in the quantities needed by households, business and industry.
  • 15:32
    More than 20,000 people on ‘boil water’ notices and almost a million more depend on drinking water supplies that are at risk of failing the required standards.
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    There is insufficient supply for the Greater Dublin Area.
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    42 towns where raw sewage literally runs into our rivers and seas untreated – including Arklow, Cobh, Youghal and Bundoran.
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    Almost half the water treated, at significant cost, runs off in leaks and is unaccounted for.
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  • 15:34
    22 households that are cumulative leaking over one million litres a day into their driveways. That is enough to serve the needs in one day in the town of Gorey.
  • 15:34
    Calls for order continue.
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  • 15:36
    To address these legacy issues, to invest for the future and to provide consistent customer service across the country, Irish Water needs to invest around €600 million every year.
  • 15:38

    I have previously acknowledged that we made mistakes. I have also acknowledged that Irish Water itself made mistakes.

    To date, the Government and Irish Water have been operating to demanding timelines that underestimated the scale of the endeavour in moving from delivery by local government to a fully regulated public utility in such a short space of time – we tried to do in three years what other countries did in five to ten years.  

  • 15:38

    In advance of the completion of the metering programme, the charging regime was overly complex, it was not well understood by the public and it had created uncertainty for customers regarding their bills in 2015 and beyond.  

  • 15:38

    However, the package I am announcing today corrects those mistakes. It gives every citizen of goodwill, every customer of Irish Water, a firm, fair and affordable basis on which to move forward to a better future – where we will have a national water utility that will be a world leader in its field and that we can be proud of.

    I believe that this Package will be seen as fair by the vast majority of our people. It will be accepted as fair by the many people who have borne a burden of austerity but who aspire to a better life for themselves and their families and, indeed, a better Ireland.

  • 15:39
    This is a new beginning for Irish Water.
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  • 15:40

    I have listened carefully. Lessons have been learned. Now, we must move forward and resume our focus on the real challenges that remain – jobs for our young people, sharing the benefits of the recovery fairly and across all regions of the country, providing more social housing and developing a fairer taxation system that supports jobs and enterprise.

  • 15:40
    The country got into an economic mess because Governments did little else but focus on the next election.
  • 15:41

  • 15:41

    What do you think of this sentence?

    Of course we have made mistakes as a Government, but establishing Irish Water was certainly not one of them.

  • 15:42
    Minister Alan Kelly's speech finishes.
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  • 15:57
    Barry Cowen TD describes Irish Water as an "animal" and "monster". He asks for an independent authority to assess what needs to be spent. He wants the debate to continue. He turns to ask Minister Alan Kelly a question but he has left the room.
  • 15:58
    Where is Alan Kelly?
  • 15:59
    No one seems to know where Alan Kelly has gone. Come back Alan.
  • 16:00
    Michael Martin is very upset with Alan Kelly.
  • 16:01
    Gerry Adams thinks Alan Kelly leaving the room is "despicable".
  • 16:03
    Micheal Martin is insulted. Joe Higgins is standing up and pointing his finger calling the new water charges announcement "snake oil trickery".
  • 16:05
    Further debate has been suspended until 4.47pm.
  • 16:05
    Alan Kelly is found outside holding a press conference. He confirms the €100 grant will also be paid to households on group water schemes who are not Irish Water customers.
  • 16:08

    The shock continues at Alan Kelly's disappearance.

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  • 16:42
    Despite the announcement of the new water charges, people continue to protest in Donaghmede in Dublin.
  • 16:47
    Opposition TDs are returning to the Dail to continue the debate.
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  • 16:57

    Do you pay for water where you live abroad?


  • 17:04

  • 17:07
    Barry Cowen TD: "This has been... a holy mess."
  • 17:13

  • 17:17

    Statement from The Irish Property Owners’ Association:

    "It (Minister Kelly’s statement) clearly outlines that the occupier is responsible for the water charges.   The Association welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Department of Environment and Irish Water for further consultation on the issue."

  • 17:23
    Sinn Fein's Brian Stanley: "The poorest of the poor will now have their (rental) deposits raided."
  • 17:31
    New water charges plan: maximum cost will be €3 per week. Includes video with expert analysis on the new water charges plan.
  • 17:41

  • 17:45

    Analysis piece by Harry McGee.

  • 17:59

  • 18:01

    That's it me from this evening. Thanks for joining me through the water charges updates.

    Last post is an updated Q&A article from Conor Pope: All your water questions answered