Water charging principles

Most domestic and non-domestic customers receive and pay for four services:

  • supply of drinking water
  • removal and treatment of sewage
  • removal and treatment of surface drainage from private areas such as roofs and car parks
  • removal and treatment of surface drainage from public areas such as roads

Scottish Ministers made a statement in relation to the principles that must apply to water charges for 2021 to 2027.

Price regulation

The prices Scottish Water can set are determined by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS).

Ministers determine the length of the next regulatory period, i.e. the period for which prices are set.

Charges and billing: domestic customers

Household water and sewerage charges are billed and collected by individual local authorities for Scottish Water, together with Council Tax.

This joint billing and collection system enables water and sewerage bills for domestic properties to be linked to the Council Tax banding system and many existing Council Tax discounts also apply to water and sewerage charges.

Further information on water charges and billing for households can be found on Scottish Water's website.

Charges and billing: non-domestic customers

All non-domestic customers in Scotland are charged on a metered basis unless it is not practical to do so. Property and roads drainage charges are based on the rateable value of the property.

Water and sewerage charges for non-domestic customers are made up of six elements:

  • a fixed charge for water
  • a volumetric charge for water
  • a fixed charge for wastewater
  • a volumetric charge for wastewater
  • property drainage
  • roads drainage

Retail competition for non-domestic customers

While Scottish Water is responsible for the provision of water and wastewater services to non-domestic customers, there is retail competition for the provision of customer-facing activities such as billing, charge collection, meter-reading and complaints handling.

This means that non-domestic customers in Scotland can choose their own water retailer. All water retailers must be licenced by WICS, who provide a list of all licensed providers and information on the retail licensing regime.

Upcoming changes to business charges

From 1 April 2017 vacant non-domestic properties are liable to be charged for water, sewerage, and drainage services in the same way that occupied properties are.

We recently ran a consultation on modernising the water industry's use of Rateable Value to charge non-households for water and sewerage services. From 1 April 2018, current rateable values will be used to calculate unmeasured charges. More information is available on mygov.scot. We have also published rateable values: frequently asked questions.

Water and sewerage charges exemption scheme

We have a scheme that helps to reduce costs for small charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) by exempting them from paying for water and sewerage services. This is funded by a 1.5% uplift in the charges for other business customers.

Mygov.scot provides more information on the exemption scheme including how to apply.

We published a review of the exemption scheme on 6 March 2018.

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