Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (370)

Ciara Conway

Question:

370. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if carers will be entitled to an extra free water allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24399/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

With effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for public water services. The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Irish Water can collect charges from its customers in receipt of water services provided by it. The Act also provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers.

The Government has decided, following consideration of proposals in relation to the funding model for Irish Water, to provide a free allowance of 30,000 litres of water supplied and waste water treated per annum for a primary residence on a public supply. The Government has also decided to provide for an additional free allowance to cover the normal usage of water services by every child in their primary residence based on the same qualifying conditions as child benefit, such that water charges will in effect only apply to adults in such households. The Government has also decided that bills will be capped at the relevant assessed charge level for those customers with particular medical conditions which necessitate high water usage. Qualifying medical conditions will be set out, following consultation with the Minister for Health and the Health Services Executive.

In addition to the above, the Government has agreed to put in place further a affordability measures to assist pensioners, persons with disabilities, and carers who receive the Household Benefits Package. The conditions and administrative approach to this additional measure will be developed by the Department of Social Protection.