Our role in the Scottish water industry

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) is the economic regulator for the water industry. We promote the interests of Scotland’s water and sewerage customers.

Setting charges

We make sure that Scottish Water has the resources it needs to continue to provide high-quality water and sewerage services now and in the future. We do this by determining the level of revenue Scottish Water needs to collect through customer charges in order to deliver the objectives set for it by Scottish Ministers.

We have a duty to determine the ‘lowest reasonable overall cost’ that Scottish Water will have to incur to meet Ministers’ environmental, quality and service objectives for the industry.

After analysing Scottish Water’s costs and efficiency, we set a cap on the overall amount of charges that Scottish Water can collect from its customers. We do this every six years in a process called the ‘Strategic Review of Charges’. Our decisions must be consistent with the guidelines set by Ministers in their Principles of Charging.

Read the Scottish Ministers’ latest charging objectives

As part of every Strategic Review of Charges we consider our regulatory approach and where there are opportunities to develop the model. This process of challenge, which involves peer review and the input of academics and other experts in the field, ensures that we are looking to the future and helping to deliver maximum benefits for customers and communities.

Connection determinations

Developers may qualify for a contribution to the costs associated with connecting to Scotland’s water and wastewater networks. We can determine whether Scottish Water has properly applied the reasonable cost regulations in arriving at its assessment of connection costs.

Visit Scottish Water’s website to find out more information.

All queries about connections should, in the first instance, be raised with Scottish Water. Ultimately, an appeal can be made to us. If, after contacting Scottish Water, you wish to make an appeal, please contact us to find out more about how we administer reasonable cost determinations and the process for making a request.

Our duties

An important feature of the regulatory framework in Scotland is that Scottish Ministers determine a clear set of policy objectives for the industry. We set a level of charges consistent with the lowest reasonable overall cost of Scottish Water delivering these objectives.

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River on Isle of Skye

Commenting on performance

We encourage Scottish Water to provide high-quality services and value for money. We comment on how Scottish Water is performing against our determination throughout and across six-year regulatory control periods.

Managing the non-household retail market

As part of our role, we also ensure that Scotland’s non-household retail market delivers best value to customers and works well for Scottish Water and licensed suppliers.

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Barrista preparing coffee

Sharing our experience with others

As the economic regulator of publicly owned Scottish Water, we work to ensure that the industry is internationally admired for excellence and, through the investment it makes, is sustainable both today and for future generations.

We have a duty to support the Scottish Government’s vision of ensuring that Scotland is a Hydro Nation. We do this by sharing our experience with others internationally. We work with many other regulators, governments and water companies around the world.

Our international work is reflective of our underlying approach to regulation, which is to learn from our experience and from the experience of others, and to share good practice.

Read more about how we support our international partners

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