NI Water: Funding Crisis

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Infrastructure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 22nd November 2021.

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Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15 pm, 22nd November 2021

The Member raises a crucial issue. Northern Ireland Water is the largest electricity consumer in Northern Ireland, and, as a consequence of rising power costs, it has reported an increase in requirement of £19·7 million to cover the rising cost of energy. Northern Ireland Water submitted a bid for that amount in October monitoring, but, as Mr Muir highlighted, its resource budget was allocated only an additional £1·5 million. Northern Ireland Water indicates that, should power costs remain at record high levels, there could be further resource pressure of as much as £5 million before the end of the financial year.

The constrained October monitoring outcome significantly increases the risk of Northern Ireland Water not being able to deliver core services in the event that it cannot be sufficiently funded for the remainder of the financial year. The impact of rising energy costs has placed the sustainability of an effective and efficient water and sewerage service under extreme pressure. Living within current budget allocations during this period of unprecedented rising energy costs significantly increases the possibility of a detrimental impact on the delivery of that essential public health utility.

With just over four months of the financial year remaining, it is clear that that level of pressure cannot be absorbed without serious consequences and major impacts. I am engaging with the Minister of Finance and other Executive colleagues to ensure that they are fully aware of the consequences of the decision not to allocate the required funding to Northern Ireland Water.