Water And Sewerage Charges Could Be On The Cards

Consultation begins on options for introducing water and sewerage charges

Consultation begins on options for introducing water and sewerage charges

Following a direction from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, on 20 September 2023, the Department for Infrastructure has launched a consultation today on options for introducing water and sewerage charges. 

The Secretary of State has directed Northern Ireland Departments to launch public consultations on measures to support budget sustainability and raise additional revenue.

The consultation, which has had its content approved by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland provides an overview of potential water and sewerage charging revenue raising options which could be introduced in Northern Ireland, with a focus on those areas which would offer greatest value in helping to address the un-sustainability of public finances.

It sets out and seeks views on the main pathways through which 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 asks about 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.

The consultation document with full details of the options and how to provide your views is available at : 


The consultation begins today and will run for 14 weeks from today 7 December 2023, closing on 13 March 2024.

Decisions, decisions! Will be face a raft of charges from water, sewerage, prescriptions, and other areas when and if the next Assembly gets up and running ?

The Secretary of State’s direction of 20 September to departments to launch consultations can be viewed at: 

Secretary of State writes to Northern Ireland Civil Service on sustainable public finances – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

In October, the Department of Finance published an overarching document to set out the financial context for the consultations.

The document is available on the Department of Finance website:  

Financial context for revenue raising consultations | Department of Finance (finance-ni.gov.uk)

BUt without an Assembly at Stormont, how far will this progress ? Will the Secretary of State over-ride the devolved government role and impose a levy on water and sewerage users ? And there is the broader issue of other departments such as health where costs such as prescription charges may be levied in the near future.

Politicians will be over a barrel if they go back to Stormont as they will have all these ‘housekeeping’ issues to tackle, and more, but they may well wish to wrestle with the UK government over the out-workings of the Barnett Formula for Northern Ireland…another minefield they will be forced to negotiate.

If the infrastructure is crumbling and our rivers are being polluted by raw sewerage, who is to blame and how can it be fixed ? It is a sustainability issue that goes to the heart of government spending.

When parents have to buy books, equipment and toilet rolls for children at school, then one has to beg the question… why is the wider system generally failing?