Welcome from the Chair
Welcome to the Customer Forum.
Water and the treatment of our waste water are two vital public services we often take for granted. Every time we turn on the tap or pull the plug, we benefit from many years of investment in our public infrastructure.
Many of us are unaware of how much we pay for these services, or what the priorities are for improvement. Are we all happy at what we pay? And is it value for money? What are our priorities as customers in trying to make the service better?
These are just some of the issues the Customer Forum will explore as we bring a new dynamic into the relationship between customers and Scottish Water.
We have been given the task of bringing the customers voice to the table into seek to agree with Scottish Water their Business Plan for 2021-27, which will determine future service levels, investment priorities, and how much we all should pay for water and waste water services, subject to the approval of the water regulator.
I hope you will find the information on this website useful. We will be updating the site regularly as we research customer’s views and probe Scottish Waters performance. Our mission is to ensure that customers receive the best water service at the fairest price.
Water and wastewater charges in Scotland are reviewed every six years. This is known as the Strategic Review of Charges. The purpose of the review is to ensure that Scottish Water is adequately funded to meet the demands of providing Scotland’s water and wastewater services. The Scottish water industry is now working towards setting prices for the next six year period 2021-2027.
However, as well as the costs of meeting user demands for water and wastewater services, there are a number of other factors which have to be considered when setting customer bills.
Environmental and water quality regulations affect the cost of running Scottish Water, as can local planning decisions if Scottish Water needs to build new treatment works or replace some of the network. The impact of climate change and reducing Scottish Water’s carbon footprint are also factors which play a part in determining how much money Scottish Water needs to run its business and, therefore, how much the customer needs to pay.
The economic regulator of Scottish Water, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, has the task of ensuring that Scottish Water is adequately funded. WICS has a statutory duty to promote the interests of customers by setting prices for water and wastewater services at the lowest reasonable overall cost. The Commission has the expertise to determine the lowest overall cost. The Customer Forum’s role is to determine what, in the customers interest, should be considered reasonable.
Researching customer needs, views and aspirations is at the heart of future planning for service levels by gaining a greater insight into what customers want, and what they are willing to pay for. The Forum is working with Scottish Water in scrutinising its customer research programme, analysing and interpreting the results. The Forum’s overall aim is to be satisfied that the research findings truly reflect customers’ views on the water and wastewater service charges to be set and that Scottish Water’s spending priorities for the future are in line with customer expectations. The Forum has the ability to conduct whatever research it thinks fit, independently of Scottish Water. To find out more about the Customer Forum and its work, please click here for the Statement of Purpose and Workplan.
Key stakeholders across the industry – the Scottish Government, the regulators and Scottish Water itself – have acknowledged that the customer voice can be strengthened in decisions about water and wastewater service provision. The Forum’s job is to make sure the customers’ opinions are heard and taken into account, in determining charges and spending priorities in the next price setting period.