Putting Irish Water bills on hold could cost €20m

The Cabinet has approved the legislation to suspend the charges

Putting Irish Water bills on hold could cost €20m

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It is being reported that suspending water charges will cost the State some €20m.

The Irish Independent says this is the price of building around 80 local-authority houses.

The Cabinet has approved the legislation to suspend water charges, which is expected to go before the Dáil next week before moving on to the Seanad.

The charges will be suspended for nine months while a commission examines them and they are referred to an Oireachtas Committee.

The expert commission is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The suspension comes into force from July 1st until next March - but applies from April 1st last.

This means domestic customers will only receive a bill for the first three months of 2016.

However, the move could mean an end to charges - as it is unlikely that they could be re-introduced as a majority of the Dáil oppose them.

Only 64% of customers are reported to have paid their water bill to date - with Minister Simon Coveney admitting there was a 'fall-off' after the general election amid speculation the utility might be abolished.

Earlier this month, Taoiseach Enda Kenny's comments on water charges were described by some opposition politicians as a 'slap in the face to voters'.

The Irish Independent says Fianna Fáil's demand that charges be suspended pending an investigation into securing an appropriate long-term funding model to upgrade the network is "unlikely" to exceed €20m.