Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
1303. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans and proposals to assist businesses, especially in the tourism sector, in respect of reducing or waiving water rates and water charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5719/20]
Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local level. Irish Water charging policy is also subject to approval by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU).
In this regard, my Department is maintaining close contact with Irish Water in relation to its response to the COVID-19 Emergency while also liaising with the CRU. Irish Water has acknowledged the challenges faced by their non-domestic business customers, such as those in the hospitality and services sector. The majority of customers primarily pay by volume usage which will have reduced significantly for those businesses, with any standing charges forming only a small element of any bill. Irish Water has undertaken to continue to work closely with these businesses to support them in terms of continued service provision and, in particular, through proactive engagement via its call centre (1850 778 778) and customer support staff, while the CRU will keep the matter under review.
It should be noted that Irish Water's new non-domestic tariff framework for business and commercial customers was due to come into effect on 1 May 2020. This has been deferred until the COVID-19 Emergency has abated in light of the significant uncertainty facing businesses and enterprises at the present time. This decision has been taken by Irish Water with the support of the CRU and my Department. The position will be reviewed in the coming months in light of emerging developments in relation to COVID-19.