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NORTHERN IRELAND WATER’S INCOMPETENCE HITS CONSUMERS’ POCKETS AND CONFIDENCE

The Consumer Council expressed dismay at the revelation that Northern Ireland Water has made basic business miscalculations that could lead to domestic water bills soaring by up to an extra £20 million this year[1]. Consumers must not pick up the cost of Northern Ireland Water getting their figures wrong. Northern Ireland Water must be held accountable for this sheer incompetence and come clean with all their figures to explain fully what went wrong here.

Steve Costello, Chairman of the Consumer Council said: “Northern Ireland Water’s most basic business error could result in £30 extra on the average household bill.  Domestic customers are carrying an intolerable risk and the odds are stacked against them.   Northern Ireland Water makes a mistake and consumers are expected to pick up the tab – this can’t be fair.  If they can get the amount of money they need to collect from their customers so wrong, what else might they get wrong?  The Minister must hold Northern Ireland Water accountable for this expensive mistake and get assurance from them that consumers will not have any further nasty surprises ahead.  

“The Minister, the Executive and the Independent Water Review Panel have worked hard to rightly focus on re-establishing public trust and confidence in water reform in a spirit of openness and transparency.  So much effort has been put into getting the domestic water bill down and yet the potential effect of this mistake by Northern Ireland Water is to put this progress at risk.

“Consumer confidence in Northern Ireland Water must be earned – not taken for granted.  In our view, Northern Ireland Water has failed in its duty of care to customers.   The Consumer Council is committed to continuing to get water right for consumers in an open and transparent way so that we pay the lowest possible cost for quality water and sewerage services now and in the future.”

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, sbrown@consumercouncil.org.uk.  
  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, passenger transport and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk

[1] Total revenue to be collected from non-domestic customers in 2008/09 = £134 million, 15% of which = £20 million or £30 per household extra this year. Source – Independent Water Review Panel Strand One Report.

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