How we deliver best value

We promote the interests of Scottish Water’s customers. We do this by making sure that charges are as low as they can be while allowing for Scottish Water to deliver the objectives set by Scottish Ministers.

Our regulatory framework delivers best value

In setting charges, we make sure that our decisions are fully consistent with the Ministers' Principles of Charging, and that we strike the right balance between charges for current and future customers. 

The Scottish Ministers' objectives encompass aspects such as levels of service, environmental standards, drinking water quality, and growth. Scottish Water has also been tasked with transitioning to net zero emissions by 2040.

What is more, as Scottish Water is publicly owned, every pound it raises through customers’ charges benefits the customers and communities it serves.

WICS’s regulatory framework makes sure that Scottish Water improves its performance and delivers these benefits.

  • Scottish Water's customer service is at its highest level ever recorded
  • Scottish Water’s operating efficiency is among the best in the UK
  • Household bills have reduced by 11% in real terms since Scottish Water was created

Water charges in Scotland remain among the lowest in the UK, while Scottish Water has invested over 30% more per person since 2002 than the average company in England and Wales.

The Strategic Review of Charges 2021-27

We published our decisions on charges for the six-year period 2021-27 in December 2020 in a document called the ‘final determination’. It allows Scottish Water to invest £4.5 billion over the six years and to deliver wide-ranging, long-lasting benefits for Scottish customers.

  • Today’s levels of service to customers are as good as has ever been recorded by any water and sewerage company in Great Britain. The final determination allows Scottish Water to maintain these high service standards now and into the future.
  • As part of an overall package of measures, charges for those in receipt of full relief from Council Tax will see average price increases below inflation over the 2021-27 period.
  • No household in Scotland will see their bill increase by more than £2 a month above inflation in each year. The average bill will increase by less than 80 pence a month – around £9 a year – above the rate of inflation each year.
  • We set Scottish Water highly demanding efficiency targets, so that it delivers more for less.

At the same time Scottish Water’s investment will enable a flourishing environment and drinking water of which we can be proud. Scottish Water is also being supported to provide wider benefits for customers and communities, including amenity benefits such as access to land for leisure.

Finally, the significant investment in major industry that is planned will improve infrastructure, create jobs and support livelihoods across Scotland.

2021-27 Determination

Scottish Water has the funding it needs to deliver the first phase of its ambitious net zero emissions target for 2040.

Read the determination

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Best value

In our view, best value is not achieved by keeping bills low at any cost. We want to make sure that Scotland’s water industry is sustainable for the long term – so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the same services as we do today. This means that Scottish Water needs the resources that will be required to start to tackle future challenges such as the need to maintain and replace assets, and to start the transition to net zero. 
 
We are therefore moving away from a short-term approach that keeps today’s bills as low as possible – irrespective of the consequences for future generations – to thinking instead about the investment necessary for water and sewerage services to be sustainable in the long term. 

Sharing our experience

Scottish Water is, and will continue to be, a financially sustainable business and an exemplar model of public ownership on the international stage. We are share our experience through our international work.

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Greater choice for business customers

Since 2008 all 130,000 business and public sector customers have been able to choose their water and sewerage retailer. This is because the retail market was opened up to competition, in much the same way as happened in the gas and electricity industries.

These customers have benefitted through lower charges, more tailored retail services and greater choice. There have been environmental benefits too – water consumption has decreased by 20% since market opening, reducing the operational carbon footprint of the industry.

Our role is to manage the licensing framework for the retail market and to make sure that the market operates in an orderly fashion. We have put in place a number of measures to protect customers and to make sure that no customer is adversely affected.

Find out more about the market