Press Releases 2009

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Flood of Enquiries as Scottish Businesses Take Advantage of Water Competition

07 May 2009

A third of businesses in Scotland have saved money during the recession

One year on from the introduction of competition in the Scottish water industry, one third of the 130,000 businesses in Scotland have taken advantage of the scheme by renegotiating their supplier contracts.

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) was the first regulator in the world to open up competition in the sector in April 2008. Businesses large and small, from a one-man corner shop to the largest conglomerate, can now choose from four different suppliers for their water and sewerage system provision.

As the recession deepens, businesses are looking to save money, and around 43,000 have had that choice by shopping around and renegotiating their contracts.  Now WICS is urging more businesses in Scotland to do the same, and, by doing so, save up to a collective £5 million a year.

Alan Sutherland, Chief Executive of WICS says:

“The introduction of competition has clearly been one of Scotland’s business success stories. In only its first year there has been a steady stream of businesses enquiring about renegotiating or switching their supplier. In an economic downturn the ability to choose the cheapest supplier is a lifeline for businesses looking to save money on their water bills.

“We now look forward to our second year with the hope that many more businesses in Scotland take advantage of the best deals now available and realise that they can save money with a simple phone call.”

To find out more about water competition, go to


For more information:

Claire Methven ([email protected]), Ashley Harris ([email protected]) or Julie Fourcade ([email protected]), 3 Monkeys Communications, 020 7009 3100

Katherine Russell, WICS’ Director of Corporate Affairs, 01786 430 200

Notes to editors:

  1. The Water Industry Commission for Scotland is the economic regulator of the Scottish water industry. It has a statutory duty to determine price limits for Scottish Water based on the lowest reasonable cost of achieving ministerial objectives for the water industry. In November 2005, the Commission determined price limits for water and sewerage services for the regulatory control period 2006-10. A document setting out WICS’ full determination is available at
  2. Since 1 April 2008, all business customers and public bodies, such as, local authorities, hospitals, schools etc are eligible to switch water supplier. The framework for competition is set out in the Water Services etc. (Scotland) Act 2005. The 2005 Act required WICS to establish a regime to license new entrants into the market, and facilitate the orderly opening of the market. It also required Scottish Water to establish a separate retail entity (now Business Stream) to serve non-household customers in Scotland.
  3. End customer charges continue to be protected. All the water supply companies are obliged to offer customers a basic default level of service, for a default tariff determined by WICS. The default tariff is no more than the maximum charge customers would have paid to Scottish Water if competition had not been introduced. The increase in the default tariff will be, on average, less than the rate of retail price inflation until 2010.
  4. The introduction of competition into the water industry resulted in a saving of 1 million pounds in 2008, which was passed on to water providers and their customers.
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