Helensburgh's MSP Jackie Baillie has hit out at Scottish Water bosses after the utility company revealed a major hike in charges is on the way - at the same time as senior executives were awarded huge bonuses.

The publicly-owned firm announced last week that annual charges will rise by 8.8 per cent when the new financial year begins in April.

That's on top of a 5 per cent increase imposed 12 months ago and means that the average household will be charged nearly £36 more per year for water and sewerage services.

At the same time, Scottish Water’s chief executive will receive up to £90,000 in bonuses.

Ms Baillie said: “This eye-watering increase will pile pressure on struggling families in my constituency and it begs belief that SNP ministers nodded it through.

“With everything from water charges to rail fares to income tax rising, the SNP’s rhetoric on the cost of living has been exposed as nothing but warm words.

“The SNP should stand up for Scots and stop this increase from going ahead.

“This increase represents yet another rise in costs that already hard-pushed households in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh and Lomond will require to fund from limited budgets.”

Scottish Water states the rise in charges, which will come into effect on Monday, April 1, is necessary to protect water and waste services.

Chief executive of Scottish Water, Alex Plant, said: “Our core services play a vital role in the daily lives of millions of people in Scotland.

“As a publicly owned body, we have a clear responsibility to ensure what people pay is affordable and set at a fair level for both current and future generations.

“The board’s decision on charges for 24/25 recognises the need for significant investment to protect services now and for the future as climate change means that more volatile weather conditions are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

“Whilst increases in bills are never welcome, and we acknowledge that cost-of-living pressures remain, this 70p a week on average increase will set us on a pathway to recover ground lost over the past two years when charges were set at a level lower than allowed for under the regulatory settlement.

“These charges will help us continue to meet our customers’ expectations, enable investment for resilience, and strike a fair balance between what customers today are paying and what future generations will need to contribute.

“The water charges reduction scheme, and other discounts, exemptions and reliefs, which apply to around 50 per cent of all households in Scotland, are in place to help customers who may struggle to pay.”

Last week, Scottish Water shared that household customer charges generate around £1.5 billion for the company annually.

Responding to Ms Baillie's criticisms, the Scottish Government backed Scottish Water's decision to increase charges - but denied ministers had any involvement in the process.

A spokesperson said: “Household water charges for Scotland are set by Scottish Water’s board with approval from the independent economic regulator. Ministers have no role in this process.

“Investment in our water and wastewater services is essential to maintain current high levels of performance and deal with the increasing impacts of the climate emergency.

“Scotland’s commitment to public ownership of our water industry means that every pound raised is reinvested in the water industry and has helped ensure average water bills in Scotland are lower than in England and Wales.”