Press Releases 2011

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Water regulator says competitive tender is good news for Scottish customers

01 March 2011




The Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) today welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government of the results of a national tender exercise carried out by Procurement Scotland. From
1 April 2011, Business Stream will supply water and sewerage services to central and local government organisations across Scotland as part of a new three-year deal.


The tender represents more than 20% of the total non-household market in Scotland and will bring around £20 million of savings to the public sector. Under the contract Business Stream will provide a range of additional services such as water audits, and leak detection and repair.


Alan Sutherland, Chief Executive of WICS, said:

“We welcome this announcement, which brings many millions of pounds of savings. This is particularly good news at a time when public sector organisations across the board are having to find economies. The substantial savings for the public purse will benefit not only the non-household organisations covered by the contract, but also the people of Scotland and its wider economy.


 “The tender is a further example of the benefits we have seen in Scotland since opening up the retail water market to competition three years ago.”


The benefits of competition are available to all 130,000 businesses and public sector organisations across Scotland – from the smallest corner store to the largest international company. Since April 2008, more than 45,000 customers have already renegotiated the terms of their supplies – receiving either better prices or more tailored levels of service, and in many cases both.


This coming summer the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is due to publish a Water White Paper that will address the scope for introducing similar competitive arrangements in England and Wales.


Mr Sutherland added:


“Having seen the benefits to customers and the environment as a direct result of competition in Scotland we believe that customers in England and Wales should too. We hope that the Water White Paper will make this possible.”


To find out more about retail competition in Scotland please visit



For more press information please contact: Duncan Mackenzie-Reid College Hill, 020 7457 2020 or on mobile 07807 239 764/07792 918 648  [email protected]


Notes to editors:


1.       WICS is the economic regulator of the Scottish water industry. It has a statutory duty to determine charges caps for Scottish Water based on the lowest overall reasonable cost of achieving the Scottish Government’s objectives for the water industry.

2.       Further information about the contract is available in the Scottish Government’s press release dated 1 March 2011.

3.       The water and sewerage market operates in much the same way as in other utilities, where retail suppliers compete for business by offering the best deals. There are currently five active retailers in the market, including two major English companies.

4.       An independent cost/benefit assessment was carried out in 2010 for WICS by Grant Thornton UK. This showed that the benefits of competition are likely to exceed the costs by 3:1.

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