HELENSBURGH'S MSP has blasted plans to increase water bills by five per cent amid the continued cost-of-living crisis.

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton constituency MSP, hit out after Scottish Water announced the price hike, which will affect households across the country, and is due to come into force from April.

The amount households pay in Scotland for water and waste water services in 2023-24 will rise by an average of 37 pence per week. 

Ms Baillie said: “It beggars belief that the SNP are letting Scottish Water hike bills at a time when so many people are struggling to make ends meet.

“People in my constituency, in Helensburgh and Lomond and across Scotland are facing the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades, but Scottish Water are sitting on £500million pounds in cash reserves.
“If the SNP really want to help people through this cost-of-living crisis, they need to stop this painful bill hike going ahead and freeze water rates.”

The increase – five per cent above current charges – will be collected alongside council tax. 

Around half of households in Scotland receive financial support as they automatically have either a discount, exemption or reduction applied to their water and wastewater charges. 

Douglas Millican, chief executive of Scottish Water, said:  “Our core services play a vital role in the daily lives of millions of people in Scotland. 

“Our responsibility as a publicly funded body is focused on providing excellent service and water quality and reducing our impact on the environment on which we depend. 

“The charges for 2023-24have been set at a level which recognise the need for significant future investment to protect services, and the current economic challenges faced by many. Charge levels in the future are likely to rise to meet our strategic objectives, meet the needs of our customers and to transform services so they become as environmentally and financially-sustainable as possible.” 

Water and waste water charges to licensed providers who supply businesses and other non-domestic customers will also increase by five per cent. 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Water is responsible for setting water charge levels in Scotland and we welcome their decision to set next year’s charges well below inflation – at five per cent. This is an average rise of 37p per week.

“In 2023-24, the average charge in Scotland is expected to be £411, compared to £448 in England and Wales. On average, our water charges remain lower than in other parts of the UK.

“The 35 per cent discount on charges for vulnerable customers who have the most difficulty paying has also been retained, which will protect thousands of eligible households.

“As a result, many households in receipt of the full water charges reduction scheme discount will continue to pay less than they did in 2020-21.

“Keeping our water services in public ownership means that every pound raised is reinvested in our water industry.”