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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February, 2004, 11:03 GMT
Water rates rise in the pipeline
Prices will rise in the east and west of Scotland
Water charges for the majority of Scottish householders are to rise by more than 5% from April.

Domestic customers in the north of Scotland will see a 3.4% reduction in the water rates, but charges for the east and west will rise by 5.1%.

The difference is due to Scottish Water's move to harmonise charges.

About 140,000 business customers will see a rise of 2%, and a new low user non-domestic tariff will be introduced.

Harmonisation of charges

The announcement was made by Deputy Environment Minister Allan Wilson.

He said that a failure by Scottish Water and the Water Industry Commissioner to agree a charges scheme for 2004-05 had resulted in them being set by ministers.

Charges for domestic customers will be harmonised across Scotland - any house in council tax Band D will pay 338.31 for 2004-05.

Mr Wilson said: "We have decided that we should complete the harmonisation of charges across Scotland this year.

"It is fair and consistent that all customers in the same council tax band should pay the same charge wherever they live."

Under this new charge customers using least water will save most money
Cheryl Black
Scottish Water

Mr Wilson added that it was the first time in almost 10 years that business customers in Scotland had faced a lower than inflation rise.

The new low-user tariff, expected to benefit 30,000 business customers, will reduce the water and sewerage standing charges and increase the usage charges.

All metered customers with a 20mm pipe who use less than 25m of water in a year will benefit.

Scottish Water's Customer Services Director, Cheryl Black, said: "Under this new charge, customers using least water will save most money.

"In our first year of charging we became aware that some of our smaller businesses, perhaps a corner shop or small office with only a sink and toilet, were paying similar business charges to much bigger premises.

'Kick in the teeth'

"We have worked with our customers and are confident these refined charges will help address their concerns."

The Scottish Conservatives claimed the rises were "a kick in the teeth" for taxpayers.

Tory rural affairs spokesman Alex Johnstone MSP said: "The east and west of Scotland both face an increase in their bill of almost double the rate of inflation, and even the light relief for taxpayers in the north of Scotland will not placate them.

"And why should it?

"After all, the Water Industry Commissioner has made quite clear that Scots are paying 80 more for their water than they would be if Scottish Water was run as efficiently as the companies in England's privatised water industry."

Scottish Water was created in April 2002 by merger the country's three regional water boards.

BBC Scotland's Glenn Campbell
"Water charges are rising again"

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