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Water Report signals end of water charging – no-one will pay twice

12 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Regional Development Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said that the 'Hillyard' Report into water spells the end of British government proposals for water charges.

Mr McCartney is a member of the Assembly Regional Development that last night wrote to the Minister Conor Murphy welcoming the report as 'a useful first step'.

Mr McCartney said:

"People asked for a fair deal and a root and branch review of the direct rule proposals. Conor Murphy proposed this fundamental review along with the Executive and I think that when everyone looks past the politicking they will welcome it.

"The Report recommends scrapping British Government plans for Water Charges. Sinn Féin fully endorse this. No one should pay twice - we fought the election on this commitment and this report delivers on that.

"People will now pay for their water along with their rates - as was the case in the past. The improvement is that there will now be a clear separate line in the rates bill - this will make it open and transparent. People will see what they are paying.

"The link that existed between rates and water that was broken by Mark Durkan and David Trimble has been re-established.

"This also means that people who are eligible for reliefs under the rates system will be eligible for exactly the same reliefs in relation to water -people on low income will benefit. There is also the recommendation for further targeted assistance, for example for people who are asset rich and cash poor. The affordability tariff will be worked on further in strand 2.

"Metering while it has some merit I accept would have been very very costly and pushed up the cost to the individual. I also welcome the fact that Conor Murphy has already ruled out privatisation and said that it was clear that this was the real intention of the British government.

"The recommendations include £160 coming off the rates element of the combined bill to meet the cost of the water next year. The result is that people will be paying less than was being forecast - paying less for water and their rates.

"This is only the first part of the Review. The second part will look at the overall governance, accountability and management issues and the status of the company." ENDS

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