A PACKAGE of measures worth £60 million has been agreed between the Scottish 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.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who has written to the industry to set out details of the package of measures, said: “In these anxious and uncertain times it is essential that we work together to support businesses wherever we can.
“I therefore welcome this initiative by the water industry.
“Relaxing charges for licensed water providers is important because it will give them the flexibility they need to engage with their customers and respond to their difficult circumstances.
“This will minimise disruption in the retail water market and help to provide some extra reassurance to businesses throughout Scotland as we face up to the challenging weeks and months to come.”
The package, introduced with immediate effect, has been developed by Scottish Water, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland and the Central Market Agency, in conjunction with the Scottish Government.
Douglas Millican, Chief Executive of Scottish Water, commented: “Our water and waste water services are vital to the business community across Scotland 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 to reduce the financial stress on the retail water market during this COVID-19 crisis.”
Other measures to assist the market will be introduced by the Central Market Agency, including the suspension of all performance standard charges.
This will further assist licensed providers to focus their efforts on supporting customers.
Alan Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, added: “The Water Industry Commission for Scotland very much recognises the current difficulties faced by businesses and licenced providers.
“These measures will provide support for market participants and help ensure an orderly market. We would urge market participants to work together to assist customers at this difficult time.”
Comprehensive details of the package will be set out by the industry in a further letter to licensed providers.
This package of measures is additional to the package of support for business already announced by the Scottish Government and the UK Government and is designed to minimise disruption in the competitive retail market.
There are 30 licensed providers in the Scottish retail market.
These provide retail services to business customers.
Scottish Water is the wholesale provider of water and wastewater.
The market is regulated by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland and overseen by the Central Market Agency.