A package of measures worth £60 million has been agreed between the SNP Government and the water industry to help businesses facing difficulties with water charges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means providers - who supply water services to businesses - can be flexible with their own customers at this difficult time.
The package of measures, introduced with immediate effect, has been developed by Scottish Water, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) and the Central Market Agency (CMA), in conjunction with Scottish Ministers.
Other measures to assist the market will be introduced by the CMA, including the suspension of all performance standard charges. This will further assist licensed providers to focus their efforts on supporting customers.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP, who write to the industry setting out details of the package, said:
“In these anxious and uncertain times it is essential that we work together to support businesses wherever we can.
“Relaxing charges for licensed water providers is important because it provides the flexibility needed to engage customers and respond to their difficult circumstances. This will minimise disruption in the retail water market and provide reassurance to businesses throughout Scotland as we face up to the challenging weeks and months ahead.”
Douglas Millican, Chief Executive of Scottish Water, added:
"Our water and waste water services are vital to Scotland’s business community and we're working closely as a sector to introduce these support measures quickly. These steps are being introduced to provide support to business customers and reduce the financial stress on the retail water market during this COVID-19 crisis."
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“Businesses across North Ayrshire will welcome this support from the SNP Government as they navigate through these incredibly difficult times.
“With Scottish Water providing the opportunity to suspend pre-payment, it is now up to licensed water providers to do the right thing and pass that financial leeway on to businesses.
“This package is effective immediately, so if any business in Cunninghame North is refused the opportunity to delay their April payment by their water provider, please get in touch with me.”
This package of measures is additional to the package of support for business already announced by the SNP Government and is designed to minimise disruption in the competitive retail market.
There are 30 licensed providers in the Scottish retail market. Scottish Water is the wholesale provider of water and waste water. The market is regulated by the WICS and overseen by the CMA.