WICS picks trust and transparency over markets for SRC2021-27

Scottish Water is to be entrusted to take full ownership of its business plan and given greater responsibility than ever for the services it provides to current and future customers under plans just unveiled by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland for the next price review.

In its methodology for the Strategic Review of Charges 2021-27, WICS builds on the collaboration-based and customer-centric approach it took at the 2015-21 review. It will give Scottish Water more control to make its own decisions – though has told the company to expect these (and the evidence it provides to support them) to be scrutinised (a ‘trust but verify’ approach). And it will once again expect the company to engage directly with customers via a beefed up version of the Customer Forum it used last time around.

Notable aspects of the methodology include:

  • Rejection of more markets – WICS “believes that challenging Scottish Water to justify to its customers the actions and choices that it makes and the transparent reporting of its financial performance will bring greater benefits to customers” than extending the use of markets beyond the non household retail space.

  • Customer Forum – a ten strong Forum is being convened, once again under the chairmanship of Peter Peacock CBE, with a bigger budget and a remit to reach out to communities.

  • Innovation – Scottish Water will be freed up to demonstrate it is meeting Scottish Government objectives, rather that be directed by any specific regulatory actions.

  • Future proofing assets – Scottish Water must collaborate with customers and other stakeholders to decide on an appropriate strategy for asset maintenance.

  • Financial monitoring – the SRC15-21 ‘tramlines’ monitoring approach is to be refined.

  • OECD review – at WICS’ request, the OECD will both provide support to, and review the process/outcome of, the entire price review.

Full coverage of the methodology and comment from WICS chief executive Alan Sutherland will be in the April issue of THE WATER REPORT.