Infrastructure Secretary responds to Chancellor’s water announcement.
The Scottish Government is committed to Scottish Water remaining in public hands, Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said today.
Speaking after the Chancellor George Osborne published a Competition Plan, which includes an announcement of the UK Government's intention to consult on the introduction of household competition for water and sewerage retail services in England, Mr Brown commented that Scottish Water is delivering for Scotland as a publicly owned corporation.
Mr Brown said:
"Scottish Water will remain in public hands. It is performing well and there is no reason to change its status.
"Under the current public ownership model, Scottish Water provides services to households and charges are collected by councils. Our arrangements means that Scotland has amongst the lowest water and waste water charges in the UK – ensuring that these essential services are affordable for Scottish families.
"By proudly keeping Scottish Water in public ownership and ensuring that prices are tightly regulated, we have been able to ensure that household charges in Scotland are consistently below the average in England and Wales. In 2015-16, charges are on average, £39 cheaper.
"We will of course watch the debate in the English water market and react as necessary to ensure that household charges in Scotland continue to be affordable whilst ensuring that Scottish Water continues to provide industry-leading levels of customer service."
The Chancellor has launched a Competition Plan, which includes an announcement of the Government's intention to move towards household competition for water and sewerage retail services in England. The first step of this is to collect robust evidence on the potential costs and benefits to customers. As such, DEFRA has asked Ofwat to provide the required evidence by summer 2016.
DEFRA will also now start to work with water companies in England on the transition to household retail competition. Implementation could not be until the next price review period at the earliest.