The Future of Scottish Water

Posted: 19 July 2010, in Press Release

Recent news about the Governance of Scottish Water highlights one of the key issues ahead of the Scottish Parliament Elections next year. Would £140m of taxpayers’ money be better spent on public services such as schools, housing and health or is keeping Scottish Water in the hands of the public sector the best model available to ensure high quality water and low costs for taxpayers?

The Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition believes the next Scottish Government must make the governance of Scottish Water a priority. The mutual/social enterprise model, a proven success with Welsh Water, would not only free up £140m of public spending but by creating a ‘company limited by guarantee’ any financial surpluses are retained for the benefit of Scottish Water’s customers which would then fund capital investment and keep costs down- delivering better value for customers and the taxpayer.

The public will continue to exercise oversight of the company through membership which is open to any customer, and gives the right to attend members meetings and take part in the democratic structures of the organisation, and recent Coalition polling conducted by Ipsos MORI demonstrated significant public support for this approach

Given the current financial climate and clear benefits of this model, can we afford to not mutualise of Scottish Water? 

Ipsos MORI Findings

Asked their view on whether Scottish Water should remain a public company, become a company owned by its customers or become a wholly privater company Scottish public favour the option of Scottish Water remaining a public company owned by the Scottish Government (Mean score=7.48). 42% fully supported this proposal. The second most popular proposal was for Scottish Water to be wholly owned by its customer where dividends are not paid to shareholders (6.43). 25% fully supported this proposal.  People were far less supportive of Scottish Water becoming a wholly private owned company where dividends are paid to shareholders (2.75). Over half (54%) of people completely opposed privatisation.