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Market Opening

More information on competition in the Water Industry in Scotland for business properties

Related Organisations

Use this page to find out more about what is happening in the water industry in Scotland.

Water and Sewerage Supply

As part of its work to ensure that charges are kept as low as possible, Scottish Water checks that households and businesses that benefit from water and / or wastewater services are recorded in our systems.

When Scottish Water identifies a business property that has not been recorded, but that is benefiting from its service, a letter is sent out to the business customer outlining the steps that will be taken to register the property.

In the same way that business customers choose a service provider for the supply of gas, electricity and other utility services, businesses in Scotland can also choose a water and wastewater service provider.  These service providers are known as Licensed Providers and they are responsible for billing customers for the services provided by Scottish Water. 

Any business customer who receives a letter from Scottish Water but believes that its premises are already registered for water and wastewater services should tell their Licensed Provider that they have received a letter from Scottish Water about registering the premises.  Their Licensed Provider will be able to liaise with Scottish Water to clarify whether all services are already correctly registered and, if appropriate, stop the process.

Customers will have 15 business days from receiving a letter from Scottish Water to appoint a Licensed Provider.  The Licensed Provider will then contact Scottish Water to complete the registration process.

Should a Licensed Provider not be appointed within 15 business days of receiving the letter from Scottish Water, business customers will be allocated a Licensed Provider at random.  The appointed Licensed Provider will then contact the business customer to complete the registration process. 

There are a number of Licensed Providers operating in Scotland to choose from and their details can be found at www.scotlandontap.gov.uk, a website run by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland who regulate the market.  The Scotland on Tap website also provides information on how the water industry’s retail market for businesses customers operates in Scotland and gives business customers advice on how to change Licensed Providers.

In line with the Scottish Minister’s ‘Principles of Charging’, having a meter installed is the fairest way to charge business customers for services provided, most Scottish businesses therefore have a metered supply.  Meters also enable customers to track usage and manage bills.  As part of the registration process, Scottish Water will assess the feasibility of installing a meter to the business property and advise customers accordingly.

Should you require any further information or assistance regarding this process, please contact gapsites@scottishwater.co.uk.

Role of Scottish Water in the New Market Framework

Setting Up a Subsidiary

As required by the Water Services etc. (Scotland) Act 2005, Scottish Water has created Scottish Water Business Stream Ltd (SWBS), a wholly owned subsidiary. SWBS is the first Licensed Provider of water and sewerage services for non-household customers in Scotland.  SWBS took over responsibility for customer service and billing services for all non-household customers from 01 Nov 2006.

This means that if a business was an existing customer of Scottish Water, their account(s) transferred over to SWBS under the existing Customer Reference Number(s) and that business should continue to be invoiced by SWBS and make payments, including payments by direct debit, in the same way.     

Scottish Water’s Network

All water and sewerage services will continue to be supplied and collected via the Scottish Water network of pipes and drains and Scottish Water remains responsible for maintaining and investing in the network.

If you are a non-household customer paying charges for property drainage through your Licensed Provider, and you have grounds, which can be evidenced, for believing that the property does not use the public sewer network, you may make a request for a service review. Applications for such a review should be channelled through your Licensed Provider.  Scottish Water’s Guide to Surface Water Drainage can be accessed below.


Scottish Water as Wholesaler

Scottish Water’s role has changed to that of Wholesale Supplier to Licensed Providers. We no longer have a direct relationship with non-household customers for the supply of water and sewerage services.
Scottish Water will continue to provide services directly, to household customers in Scotland.

Disputes and Complaints

Scottish Water is committed to fulfilling its market obligations. Where Licensed Providers have concerns about any issues arising from the market, they can:
  1. Contact the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman or the Water Industry Commission;
  2. Contact Scottish Water’s Wholesale Account Manager for Licensed Providers; or
  3. Raise a complaint or a dispute under particular market instruments.
Disputes under the Wholesale Services Agreement, Operational Code or Market Code can be dealt with under the formal processes set out in these documents. Concerns related to the Directions on Scottish Water can be dealt with under the Scottish Water procedure for complaints below.

Utility Connections Providers Accreditation Scheme

More information on competition in the Water Industry in Scotland for business properties

Wholesale Services to Licensed Providers

The Water Services etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 provides a new framework for the industry for Wholesale suppliers