Belfast Telegraph

NI Water adding £440m to economy, research shows


By Margaret Canning

NI Water is contributing around £440m to the local economy every year, according to new research.

And the analysis carried out by Ulster University Business School on behalf of the utility provider shows that over a six-year period to 2021, the 10-year-old public company is predicted to have added £2.5bn to the economy.

It said that for every £1 spent by NI Water - which employs 1,222 people here - the benefits to the economy were almost double.

Dr Mark Bailey, senior lecturer in economics at Ulster University, said: "All expenditure by organisations (be it on capital projects, day-to-day operations or staff) produces a 'local economic multiplier effect' - which is the creation of local employment opportunities and the retaining of investment within the local and regional economy.

"In the case of NI Water investment, the ripples don't just reach their own employees and suppliers.

"They are felt by a wide range of other businesses, from agri-food production, to new house construction, to tourism development."

Recent supplier deals include a £3.25m contract with Heyn Engineering in Duncrue for the provision of safety and maintenance equipment.

It is now a decade since NI Water's formation.

In its most recent results for the year ending March 31, 2016, it posted pre-tax profits of £54.4m.

The wage bill for its workforce was £57.3m.

NI Water was ranked at number four in the Belfast Telegraph Top 100 Companies 2017 on the basis of its pre-tax profits.

Its chief executive Sara Venning has been in the top job for three years.

She said: "The report is of significant interest to our business community and enables us to position NI Water as one of the leading companies in Northern Ireland, not simply in terms of turnover but also in terms of our impact and influence on the local economy.

"NI Water has delivered over £2bn of investment over the last 20 years, provided record levels of service to customers and reduced its day-to-day running costs by £65m.

"This has enabled the company to close the efficiency gap with top performing water companies in England and Wales from 50% to below 13%."

The reduction in running costs at the organisation has taken place since 2009/10, the company said.

She added: "Our services are essential for a modern regional economy and we are committed to working with government to secure the necessary medium-term funding to underpin our delivery of investment in better services for our customers".

Looking ahead, she said: "At the end of 10 years and going into the next 10, it is a good time to reflect on the ownership of NI Water.

"Whatever the governance model, in simple terms we are here to serve consumers now and in the future.

"As a company, we are guardians of the networks and assets, but every one of us uses the service.

"Only together, as a company and a community, can we continue to safeguard the environment and protect our most valuable and precious asset - water."

NI Water was established in 2007 as a replacement for the Water Service. Businesses are charged for water in Northern Ireland but domestic customers are not, with domestic costs instead subsidised by the Department for Infrastructure.

Belfast Telegraph

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