Water Industry Commission for Scotland
|Alan Sutherland (CEO) and Gordon Hughes (Chairman)|
The Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) is the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in Scotland. Established in 2005, it is an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government with statutory responsibilities.
The Commission comprises a non-executive Chairman, two non-executive members and an office of supporting staff. Based in Stirling, the office is led by the Chief Executive, Alan Sutherland, who is also a member of the Commission.
The Water Industry Commission for Scotland has a statutory duty to promote the interests of customers by setting prices for water and sewerage services that deliver Scottish Ministers’ objectives for the water industry at the lowest reasonable overall cost. The objectives include improvements in water quality, environmental performance and customer service. The price setting process takes place every six years, with the current regulatory period covering the years 2015-2021.
The Commission monitors and reports on Scottish Water’s performance regarding customer service, investment, costs and leakage. The Commission sets challenging targets for Scottish Water to achieve and monitors performance to make sure that it responds positively to these challenges. The regulatory framework in Scotland has resulted in Scottish Water becoming significantly more efficient and has helped keep bills low – average household bills in 2015-16 are around £40 lower than they are in England and Wales.
The Commission is also responsible for facilitating competition in the Scottish water industry. In April 2008 Scotland became the first country in the world to open up water and sewerage services to competition for all non-household customers, under the Water Services etc. (Scotland) Act 2005. This means that all non-household customers (public sector, non-profit and business organisations) are able to choose who provides their services. The Commission is responsible for implementing the framework set out in the Act, including licensing all participants in the market. Since competition has been introduced there have been significant improvements for customers, with more options and better services.