Water and sewerage charges – options for revenue raising

Consultation opened on 07 December 2023. Closing date 13 March 2024.


On 20 September 2023 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland wrote to Permanent Secretaries of Northern Ireland Departments directing that they launch public consultations on measures to support budget sustainability by raising additional revenue. This consultation outlines different options to generate revenue from charging for water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland, with a focus on creating sustainable public finances.  It sets out and seeks views on the main pathways through which domestic water and sewerage charging could be introduced, how a relief scheme to protect vulnerable people might be developed, and how charging might be billed and collected. It also considers three other revenue raising options: the removal of the domestic allowance for non-domestic customers; charging customers for domestic septic tank desludging; and recovering the cost of roads drainage from all customers.


Consultation description

1880 responses were received in response to this consultation.  A high-level summary report is now available:

The Minister has publicly stated that he will not be introducing domestic water charges.

Water is a valuable resource and access to reliable water and sewerage services is crucial for Northern Ireland residents. We all use water daily, whether it is to drink, wash or cook or when we flush the toilet. Our homes, businesses, schools and health care services all rely on having access to clean drinking water and wastewater facilities to function properly and more sustainably.

It costs around £680 million each year for NI Water to deliver these services in Northern Ireland.  Since domestic water and sewerage users aren’t directly charged, the funding comes from government subsidies, non-domestic charges and borrowing.   

The Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) Price Control 21 investment profile requires a total of some £2 billion to be invested in water and sewerage infrastructure up to 2027 with similar levels of funding required for future Price Controls. The present funding arrangements whereby the service is largely funded through the public expenditure system does not provide a reliable source for the sustained investment programme required. A self-financing arrangement is needed to ensure that the water and sewerage investment required is delivered without compromising the necessary levels of public expenditure in other key services such as health and education, roads and transport.

This consultation seeks views on the proposed options to raise revenue through water and sewerage charges.  Responses should be submitted via Citizen Space no later than 13 March 2024.

The consultation document and associated documents can also be made available in alternative formats on request. 

Please contact: waterchargesconsultation@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

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