Northern Ireland

NI Water increases charges to businesses by average of 1.6%

Image caption NI Water will increase chares to business customers form next month

Northern Ireland Water is raising its prices for 80,000 business customers, including farmers.

The firm said bills will rise from April by an average 1.65% for metered users, which is below inflation.

As examples, it estimated an average medium-sized factory will pay an additional £54 annually and a farm an extra £3.

NI Water agrees annual tariffs for water and sewerage services with the Utility Regulator.

It said it was able to keep the increase low because of efficiency savings it had made over the last number of years.

Finance Director Ronan Larkin said: "NI Water was able to hold tariffs with no increase in the last financial year.

"Since then, inflation has risen steadily, creating pressure on our operating cost base.

"We have. however, been able to ensure that not all of this inflationary pressure has been passed on to our customers."

About 73,000 business customers have water meters and their charges are slightly lower than those based on property rateable values.

NI Water raises about £73m annually from charging - but the vast majority of its revenue is by way of a subsidy from Stormont in place of household bills.

In 2017/18 this will amount to £270m.

Mr Larkin added: "Taking into account inflation, our non-domestic customers are paying 12% less, on average, for their water and sewerage services than they did five years ago."

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