Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse has welcomed a package of measures worth £60 million which has been agreed between the Scottish Government and the water industry. This is to help businesses facing difficulties with water charges during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Scottish Water has agreed to suspend pre-payment charges for licensed providers for two months, beginning with the April payment. This means providers - who supply water services to businesses - can be flexible with their own customers at this difficult time.
The package of measures, introduced with immediate effect, has been developed by Scottish Water, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) and the Central Market Agency (CMA), in conjunction with the Scottish Government.
Other measures to assist the market will be introduced by the CMA, including the suspension of all performance standard charges. This will further assist licensed providers to focus their efforts on supporting customers.
Christina McKelvie MSP commented:
"It is incredibly important that we pull out all the stops to ensure that businesses who are following the Government guidance are not punished for closing their doors for the health of their staff and the public.
"This comes alongside measures such as the UK Government paying 80% of the wages of employees affected by COVID-19 and the £2.2 billion package of support for businesses announced by the Scottish Government. During the coming months it is absolutely crucial we do everything we can to protect our economy and jobs during this unprecedented time."
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who has written to the industry to set out details of the package, said:
“In these anxious and uncertain times it is essential that we work together to support businesses wherever we can. I therefore welcome this initiative by the water industry.
“Relaxing charges for licensed water providers is important because it will give them the flexibility they need to engage with their customers and respond to their difficult circumstances. This will minimise disruption in the retail water market and help to provide some extra reassurance to businesses throughout Scotland as we face up to the challenging weeks and months to come.”
Douglas Millican, Chief Executive of Scottish Water, said:
"Our water and waste water services are vital to the business community across Scotland and we're working closely as a sector to introduce these support measures quickly. These steps are being introduced to provide support to business customers and to reduce the financial stress on the retail water market during this COVID-19 crisis."
Alan Sutherland, Chief Executive of WICS, said:
“The Water Industry Commission for Scotland very much recognises the current difficulties faced by businesses and licenced providers. These measures will provide support for market participants and help ensure an orderly market. We would urge market participants to work together to assist customers at this difficult time.”