'Adjust sewerage bills'

Tuesday 15th February 2022 6:07 am
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Portrait of Chris Thomas MHK ()

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A MHK feels Manx Utilities should adjust bills for water and sewerage to make up for the ’unfair’ difference in treatment of residents across the island by other rating bodies.

Chris Thomas, MHK for Douglas Central, asked the chair of the Manx Utilities Authority Rob Callister in Tuesday’s House of Keys sitting if it could do this since the government had decided not to modernise the rating system.

He pointed out that the current system benefits those in rural areas as those properties tend to have lower rateable values compared to places like Douglas, Onchan and Ramsey.

Mr Callister said he was happy to find out if there was anything the MUA could do but stated it is currently working off information given to it by Treasury.

Mr Thomas said after the sitting: ’Yet another Tynwald resolved to modernise rates in October 2019 when it accepted and approved the rates modernisation report, which included 19 components of new rating law, policy and practice and an implementation schedule. But government backed off this modernisation again in 2020, as it had done at the end of every administration for the last two decades near enough.

’This backing off was confirmed in Keys last month by Cabinet Office Minister Kate Lord-Brennan who stated that modernising rates was not a priority for this government.’

The MHK also asked about consideration given to the introduction of a single occupancy discount for water and sewerage rates, to which the chair replied that legislation doesn’t give provision for the reduction in charges where only one person is occupying a property.

’MUA has no plans to introduce a single occupancy discount for water and sewage rates,’ Mr Callister said.

He admitted a wider policy needed to be brought forward by the government.

Mr Thomas told the Manx Independent: ’Rob Callister agreed to consider with me and his board whether Manx Utilities, which collects more than half of the rates in the island, which is more than all the local authorities combined, could reconsider two important aspects of rates, the fairness of rateable values and single occupancy discounts.

’My question regarding single occupancy discounts was about the issue of nearly all the costs of supplying water and sewerage being fixed and independent of consumption, which implies a large standing charge before any use related payment.

’I do hope MUA takes rates modernisation forward or government reconsiders its decision not to do so, and I will work in Keys and Tynwald with that aim.

’Fairer rateable values and discounts matter, particularly now when the cost of living is soaring.’

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