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Water industry supports customers
Further steps to support economic recovery by the water industry have been announced by Infrastructure Minister Stewart Stevenson today.
The length of the next water industry regulatory period is to be extended by a year to 2015 to give households, and businesses more certainty about future charges and ensure the civil engineering industry is provided with a steady rather than fluctuating flow of work.
Changes to the way businesses are charged for their surface water drainage, due to be introduced in 2010, are also being delayed to help avoid unnecessary disruption during the economic downturn.
Mr Stevenson said:
"During these difficult economic times, we are determined to work with businesses and individuals to ensure they get the help they need to address the difficult challenges ahead.
"Average household charges in Scotland are already lower than in England and Wales. These changes will give customers greater certainty on charges and enable Scottish Water and the construction industry to plan more effectively for the future. Maintaining a framework of stable and affordable charges while improving levels of service will continue to be a main priority for the industry.
"We consulted key business organisations widely on our proposed changes to surface drainage charges and many made the case for a delay. We have listened to those views and believe deferring the introduction will minimise disruption to business customers during this current downturn."
Welcoming the announcement, CBI Scotland's Director, Iain McMillan said:
"These measures are encouraging and timely, and will provide business customers with extra certainty over future water bills at a time of considerable uncertainty for many firms, who are battling the economic downturn and the challenges of managing cash flow."
A change to the surface drainage charge basis was planned to be implemented in 2010. The change would involve a departure from the current rateable value basis for charging for surface drainage (but not public roads), to a charging structure based on the actual surface area of premises, including roofs, car parks etc that drain to the public sewers. The change would have meant that premises with low rateable values and larger surface areas would pay a higher charge.
The change to surface drainage charging would have occurred at a time when a number of other major changes to the non-household charging structure will be underway. These include the development of the competitive market, the general unwinding of cross-subsidies and the phasing in of metered charging.