FOR the first time, household and business customers in Angus will be given a stronger voice in setting the price and future investment priorities for water and waste water services in Scotland.
Set up to independently negotiate with Scottish Water on behalf of customers, the Customer Forum aims to ensure Scotland’s water customers get the best water service at the fairest price.
Championed by the economic regulator, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS), Scottish Water and Consumer Focus Scotland, the forum has an official role in reporting what customers want and arguing for their priorities in the next five-year period, 2015-2020.
This process, which assesses how much money Scottish Water needs to ensure fresh, clean drinking water and rules on whether its investment priorities are right, will now consider formally the customer’s voice.
Peter Peacock, forum chairman, said: “Water and the treatment of water are two vital public services that we often take for granted. Every time we turn on the tap or pull the plug, we benefit from many years of investment in our public infrastructure. Many of us are unaware of how much we pay for these services, or what the priorities are for improvement.
“We have been given the task of bringing the ‘customer voice’ to the table and will ask business and household customers what they are happy to pay, whether they feel water charges are value for money and their priorities for making the service better. These views will be officially reported and considered in the next water price setting period for 2015-2020 - a first of its kind in the UK utility market.”
As Scottish Water formulates its plans for the next regulatory period, the Customer Forum will ensure the customers’ interests are at the heart of the pricing process. This will involve issues including drinking water quality, carbon footprint, flooding and affordability. The work of the Customer Forum is set to conclude towards the end of 2014, just ahead of when the new price comes into effect in 2015.
Its key focus is to engage with customers, test and prioritise emerging ideas and make sure they are valid, get a clear sense of how the best service can be delivered at the fairest possible price and, over the long term, what Scottish Water’s investment priorities should be.
Further information about how to get involved is available online at www.customerforum.org.uk.