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Scotland set for 8.8% increase in water bills

Glass being filled with water
Scottish Water bills are to increase from 1 April

Water bills in Scotland will increase by 8.8% from April.

Scottish Water said the rise was needed to provide "significant investment" in replacing ageing infrastructure and improving services.

The publicly-owned company dismissed reports that it was already planning similar-sized increases for a further two years beyond 2024.

This year's increase follows a 5% rise in 2023 and a 4.2% increase in 2022.

Scottish Water serves more than 2.6 million households supplying over 1.5 billion litres of water.

It also removes and treats more than a billion litres of used and surface water daily.

Water charges are collected along with council tax in Scotland meaning bills will rise despite the Scottish government's council tax freeze.

The size of the water bills varies with council tax band, but Scottish Water said the average household would see an increase of £35.95 a year, or about 70 pence per week.

Future increases

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Humza Yousaf ruled out any possibility of freezing water rises in the same way as council tax.

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson cited a report in the Sunday Mail newspaper that Scottish Water was planning three years of large increases.

Mr Yousaf responded: "With Scottish Water, what we end up getting in comparison with England and Wales is better service, lower water charges here...and a public-owned water company with every single penny of profit reinvested back into the public service."

When asked by BBC Scotland News about reports of multiple increases being planned, Scottish Water said it decided bill increases on an annual basis.

Scottish Water said price increases were necessary for investment to help tackle "rapidly increasing climate change impacts, population shift, and ageing infrastructure."

Chief Executive Alex Plant said "more volatile" weather conditions are becoming increasingly normal" due to climate change.

He added: "This 70p a week on average increase will set us on a pathway to recover ground lost over the past two years when charges were set at a level lower than allowed for under the regulatory settlement."

Flooding in Aberfoyle
Extreme weather conditions, like flooding in Aberfoyle, are becoming more common

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie called on the SNP government to halt the increase.

She said: "This eye-watering increase will pile pressure on struggling families and it beggars belief that SNP ministers nodded it through."

A Scottish government spokesperson said ministers have no role in the process.

The spokesperson added: "Investment in our water and wastewater services is essential to maintain current high levels of performance and deal with the increasing impacts of the climate emergency.

"Scotland's commitment to public ownership of our water industry means that every pound raised is reinvested in the water industry and has helped ensure average water bills in Scotland are lower than in England and Wales."

The charges are set by the Scottish Water Board at a level consistent with the Final Determination for charges for the 2021 to 2027 period, set by the independent economic regulator, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland.