If you’re a business customer looking to switch retailers, or you need a new connection, you’re in the right place.

Scotland on Tap provides the facts about the competitive nature of the Scottish water and sewerage market, to help you make an informed decision.

Competition in the Scottish water and sewerage market

Scotland was the first country in the world to offer business customers the freedom to choose their retailer.

Since April 2008, all 160,000 businesses, public sector, charitable and not-for-profit organisations in Scotland have been presented with a range of retailers from which to choose.

The introduction of competition in the water industry in Scotland has brought wider choice, more tailored services, and lower prices.

Significant environmental benefits have also been delivered as a result of the reduced level of water consumption since market opening.


How does competition in the Scottish water and sewerage market work?

The network of water and sewerage pipes in Scotland is wholly owned by Scottish Water. Scottish Water acts as the wholesaler in the market, selling water and sewerage services to the water companies, known as retailers. Having bought their wholesale services from Scottish Water, the retailers then bundle these services with other value-adding offerings and sell them to non-household customers.

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) is the economic regulator for the water and sewerage industry in Scotland. To protect customers, WICS requires retailers to provide default services to all business customers (regardless of the location or size of their business) at a price no higher than a default tariff.

You can find the 2021-22 default tariffs here.

Scottish Water

How does competition in the Scottish water and sewerage market affect me?

Competition affects all non-household customers namely small, medium and large businesses, charities and non-profit organisations. Non-household customers can choose the retailer that best meets their needs, which means that retailers are incentivised to make their offering more attractive.

This may result in:

  • Lower water and sewage prices
  • Improved services
  • Greater water efficiency
  • More innovation in the industry

Water industry competition also affects suppliers, and those wishing to become a supplier.

Households are not affected, with all households in Scotland continuing to receive water and sewerage services from Scottish Water and paying charges along with Council Tax.

Changing Water Supplier or Setting up a New Connection

  • Reduced
    Water Bills
  • Better
  • Helpful
  • Save

Changing retailer, or setting up a new water connection, is easier than you might think. It generally takes less than a month from start to finish.

You might wish to change water supplier for any one of a number of reasons – perhaps you’d like to reduce water bills, get better service from your water supplier, or get advice from your water supplier on using less water to help save money.

Who are the stakeholders in the water and sewerage market?

  • Scottish Government sets the Principles of Charging that underpin the charging arrangements for water and wastewater services that Scottish Water provides to retailers.
  • Scottish Water operates Scotland’s publicly owned network of pipes, mains, and treatment works. It acts as the wholesaler in the market, selling water and sewerage services to retailers.
  • Retailers with a licence can purchase wholesale water and sewerage services from Scottish Water, then sell these services, along with their own services, to customers.
  • Customers more than 160,000 non-household customers in Scotland are eligible to choose their retailer.
  • The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman handles complaints from customers that cannot be resolved on matters relating to the service provided by Scottish Water and retailers.
  • WICS manages the non-domestic retail market framework and grants licences to retailers to operate in the market. It is not responsible for investigating individual customer circumstances that relate, for example, to specific contract, charging or service issues. For further information on how to resolve such issues please visit Issues and complaints.

I've Received an Unexpected Water Bill

If you have received a water bill that you weren’t expecting, you should contact your retailer for help understanding why it has been sent to you. The retailer should be able to explain why the bill has been sent to you, what it covers, and what your payment options are.

If you believe you have grounds for complaint against your supplier, click here for information on how to do so.

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