Ensuring the retail market promotes value and choice

Since 1 April 2008, all non-household and public sector customers have been able to choose their supplier. Retailers supply water and sewerage retail services to 160,000 non-household customers in Scotland.

Greater choice for business customers

You can choose a supplier that best suits your needs – however big or small your business is and wherever your location. Retailers offer a range of new and tailored services to customers from billing to advice about how to use water more efficiently.

How the market works

WICS is here to make sure that the market continues to deliver benefits to customers and works well for retailers and Scottish Water. We regularly monitor the market to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and works as effectively as possible.

Scottish Water, as the wholesaler, continues to operate and maintain the water and wastewater network and provides wholesale services to retailers.

Retailers purchase wholesale water and sewerage services from Scottish Water, then sell these services, along with their own services to non-household customers. Retail services include all customer-facing activities such as meter reading, managing billing and payment arrangements, and customer enquiries and complaints. Some retailers offer additional value-added services such as advice on water efficiency and management of wastewater discharges.

Since the opening of the market, customers in Scotland have been able to benefit from more tailored retail services and greater choice. There have also been environmental benefits – water consumption has decreased by 20% since market opening, reducing the operational carbon footprint of the industry.

It's easy to switch

Switching is simple. There are now over twenty retailers offering different services, payment terms and prices.

Visit www.scotlandontap.gov.uk to find out more about the suppliers you can choose from and how to switch.

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Market stakeholders

Scottish Government sets the Principles of Charging that underpin the charging arrangements for water and wastewater services that Scottish Water provides to retailers.

Scottish Water operates Scotland’s publicly owned network of pipes, mains, and treatment works. It acts as the wholesaler in the market, selling water and sewerage services to retailers.

Retailers with a licence can purchase wholesale water and sewerage services from Scottish Water, then sell these services, along with their own services, to customers.

Customers more than 160,000 non-household customers in Scotland are eligible to choose their retailer.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman handles complaints from customers that cannot be resolved on matters relating to the service provided by Scottish Water and retailers.

WICS manages the regulatory framework by encouraging the Scottish water industry to provide a high-quality service and value for money. WICS manages the non-domestic retail market framework and grants licences to retailers to operate in the market.

We consult regularly 

Find out more about our work and have your say about the future of the market.

Learn more

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Protecting customers

In line with our duty to promote the interest of customers, we have put measures in place to protect customers.

Default tariffs and service levels

To make sure that no customer is disadvantaged, all retailers are required to offer a default range and quality of services at regulated default tariffs set by WICS. 

Default standards act as a safety net to ensure that all customers, regardless of their location, receive an appropriate minimum level of service.

Default tariff and service levels

Wholesale charges for retailers

Wholesale charges are paid by licensed providers to Scottish Water. These charges are the same across Scotland, in line with Scottish ministerial policy. This allows all customers to experience the benefits of competition. Wholesale and default tariff were set after a detailed scrutiny of the costs to serve different classes of customers.

Deemed contracts

A deemed contract applies in the interim when a customer is using water or sewerage services but has not agreed a contract with a retailer.  This makes sure that services are provided and available to customers at all times.

Under a deemed contract, a customer cannot be charged more than the default maximum tariff. They must also be given at least the default minimum level of service. The terms and conditions that will apply during the period of a deemed contract are set out in a published scheme.

You can switch away from a deemed contract at any time with no additional fees or charges.  Visit www.scotlandontap.gov.uk to find out more about the retailers you can choose from.

All customers connected to the water and/or wastewater network, are required to pay water and/or sewerage charges. However, you can request to be permanently disconnected from the network by contacting your retailer.

A guide to deemed contracts

Provider of last resort

There is a provider of last resort mechanism in place to ensure that, if a retailer was to cease trading, customers can be reallocated to an alternative retailer. This ensures continuity of services at all times.

How to complain

If you are unhappy with the level of service provided by your supplier, you can raise a formal complaint with them. Contact your retailer to find more information about their formal complaints process.

If you are still unhappy and the matter could not be resolved, you can then refer your complaint to the industry ombudsman – the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).