Big drop in Irish Water revenue since suspension announced

Utility receives €18.3m in billing cycle five - down from €33.4m collected in cycle four

The new Government agreed to suspend water charges for nine months following the general election earlier this year. The suspension was announced as the latest bills were being issued to customers.

The new Government agreed to suspend water charges for nine months following the general election earlier this year. The suspension was announced as the latest bills were being issued to customers.

 

Irish Water experienced a decline in revenue of nearly 50 per cent in its latest billing cycle – the first since the suspension of charges was announced.

The utility company received €18.3 million in billing cycle five, down from €33.4 million collected in billing cycle four.

The new Government agreed to suspend water charges for nine months following the general election earlier this year. The suspension was announced as the latest bills were being issued to customers.

The latest billing cycle covers services provided from January to March. The utility company will not issue any bills to customers during the suspension period.

According to Irish Water, the average amount expected to be collected in any quarter would be €66million, when allowances and exceptions are taken into account.

About €30.5 million was collected during the first billing cycle. This went up to €38 million in the second cycle and peaked at €42.3 million in cycle three before declining to €33.4 million in cycle four. About €162.5 million has been paid to date, well below the €338.7 million due.

Shortfall from exchequer

The company said any shortfall in funding from domestic charges during their suspension will be provided to Irish Water by the exchequer.

It added: “Domestic customers remain liable for balances due on any bills issued to date and Irish Water continues to accept payment and to deal with any billing queries in relation thereto.”

The company said 14,000 customers started paying their water bills for the first time during the most recent bill cycle, meaning 989,000 householders (65 per cent) have now paid some or all of their water charges.

“This compares to 975,000 at the end of the fourth billing cycle. Domestic customer revenue received during the fourth billing cycle was €33.4million,” the company said.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said the bill payment figures shows charges are no longer viable.

“These massive slumps in payment rates show clearly that water charges have no future,” he said.

“With the Government and Fianna Fáil still only advocating for a temporary suspension of the charges, it appears they are not listening to the people.”

Mr Ó Broin called for charging to be abolished completely. “Everything else is only kicking the can down the road,” he said.

“Water charges will remain the most contentious of political issues until this government and Fianna Fáil accept that last February the majority of people voted to scrap water charges and abolish Irish Water.”

Water charges are being reviewed in a commission set up by the Government.

Forced to resign

Former chairman of the Labour Court Kevin Duffy has taken on the chairman’s role after former senator Joe O’Toole was forced to resign for criticising left-wing politicians and saying he supported water charges and the polluter-pays principle.

Initially, water charges were to have been capped at a maximum yearly amount until the end of 2018.

Billing started in April last year and continued through May and June 2015, with bills normally being issued quarterly.

The children’s water allowance was 21,000 litres a year, per service per child.

Additional reporting: PA