Citizens Advice Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to WICS’ Strategic Review of Charges 2021-27: Draft Determination consultation.
We understand that prices must increase over the longer term:
a. To protect customer services against diminution and expensive restoration
b. Intergenerational equity: to ensure current and future customers pay a fair share of the overall cost of longer-term investment
We understand that charges during 2021-27 are capped at an average of CPI+2%, and although this maximum position may be applied, some years may require lower increases. However, we would welcome any flexibility applied by Scottish Water, within the context of customers’ views on price profile, to price increases during year 1 and 2 of the 2021-27 regulatory period to provide much needed breathing space for households and businesses recovering from the impact of Covid-19.
We welcome further financial support measures by the Scottish Government to protect low income households from price shocks however, view this as a potentially time-bound position.
We believe that those eligible for the Water Charges Reduction Scheme (WCRS) should not pay a higher proportion of their weekly income on water and sewerage charges at the end of the regulatory period than they currently pay.
Longer-term financial support based on income rather than Council Tax banding will more effectively target financial support to low income households, including those that may struggle to pay but are not eligible to receive WCRS reduction.
We will continue to monitor the real impact of price increases on low income households through our research programme and work with the Scottish Government to identify affordability policy that meets the needs of low-income households.
We welcome the Draft Determination’s position on embedding the customer and community voice into decision making however, believe that such a process requires to be adequately funded and resourced.