Northern Ireland

NI Water puts up charges for non-domestic customers

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Northern Ireland Water is putting up charges to its 80,000 non-domestic customers from April - the first price rise in three years.

The company said the increase would average out at 2.4%.

The main factor "dictating this increase" is a £14m rise, or doubling, of its rates bill, following a revaluation carried out of all local businesses last year.

In the previous two financial years, Northern Ireland Water cut its tariffs.

Businesses and farms pay bills, with the majority, around 70,000, being metered for their water use and sewerage services.

"We are conscious that economic conditions continue to be difficult for our customers and we have worked hard to minimise any increase," said Ronan Larkin, its finance director.

"It is worth noting business customers will still be paying 5.6% less, on average, for their water and sewerage services than they were in 2012."

He said that while the average increase would be 2.4%, some businesses that do not have water meters would face a higher rise.

"If we look at the typical unmetered bill that should increase annually by approximately £16," he said.

"That's probably an increase of about 4.5%."

The company gave examples of what the financial impact of the increase might be.

It said a medium factory which paid £3,282 last year would see the bill rise by 1.4%, or £45.

But customers without a meter, whose bills are partly based on the rateable value of the business, would face steeper increases.

It quoted a 6.4% increase for a small shop or office without a meter, taking the bill it quoted from £250 a year to £266.

Northern Ireland Water also said it was committed to making £22m of savings over the next six years.

But with the company already having cut its workforce by a third from 2007, it said this will not involve further redundancies.

Stormont pays the company a subsidy of around £270m annually to off-set charging domestic customers.

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