11th June 2007


The Consumer Council today voiced its commitment to drive for a fair deal for consumers of water and sewerage services and a quality Water Service within the independent review announced by the Minister for Regional Development. They welcomed the restored Assembly’s fresh approach to one of the biggest issues facing the public and gave full support to the open and transparent review of the entire water and sewerage reform process.

Eleanor Gill, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council said:

“The Consumer Council applauds the Minister and the Assembly for placing public trust and confidence at the heart of this review of water and sewerage services.  All the boxes are being ticked from a consumer perspective in the terms of reference of this review – it is to be independent, short and sharp, open and transparent and all major issues are up for review.  The Minister is creating the necessary breathing space to get water right.  No-one can underestimate this task and it is undoubted that difficult decisions lie ahead on how we fund our water and sewerage services.  It is vital that everyone gets behind this review and works hard to get consumers a fair deal within a water service that offers their customers quality, innovation, value for money and trust. 

Turning to the funding of water and sewerage services, Eleanor Gill said:

“Consumers have demonstrated that they are reasonable and responsible in their attitude to water and sewerage services.  They recognise that the necessary improvements in our systems and infrastructure come at a price but they are only prepared to pay a fair and affordable price for a quality service. 

“Under the current proposals we believe that consumers are being asked to pay twice for water and that is not fair.  If the Assembly is not able to defer water charges further then it is imperative that if a new water charge is to be introduced from next April then each household should get back the £160[1] we are currently paying this year for our water – that is half the proposed average household bill.  The public must have confidence that they are getting the best value and lowest price possible for their hard earned money – each household is due to pay an extra £10,000 over the next 20 years.  Clearly that is not the case at the moment, as it stands water will be facing the highest rising household bill.

““The Consumer Council has worked tirelessly on this issue over the last few years on behalf of all consumers and will contribute to this review with renewed energy and commitment.  There is a lot of work to be done.  The good thing is that the context has been set for this work to take place.  It is our hope and anticipation that we will all soon be in a position to sign up to a new beginning and provide the stability needed to continue investment in our water and sewerage services now and in the future.”

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Gráinne Duffy, telephone, 028 9067 4813 or e-mail, [email protected]
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
  3. For more information, visit our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk


[1]2007 figure based on households paying £127 for Water per annum in 1998-9.