Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Sammy Wilson sent back to drawing board on water charges

DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has been told by his First Minister party leader to re-word a Government paper that envisaged water charges coming in next year.

Mr Wilson has been repeatedly reminding Executive colleagues of the cost to other public services of postponing household water charges. In a paper recently circulated to other Ministers he included calculations based on full water charge proceeds being available to Government from 2011-12.

But in an apparent rebuff, First Minister Peter Robinson said planning ahead on such an assumption would be “unwise” and requested the document's re-drafting.

Sinn Fein Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy — who has direct responsibility for water — also rejected Mr Wilson's paper.

Water charges were on the way under Direct Rule, but have been repeatedly deferred by the executive since devolution.

Water charges require cross-party agreement to introduce charging. But there is no sign of any enthusiasm for a “tap tax” decision ahead of next year's election.

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