Scottish Water bosses have announced a 5% hike in charges as they said “significant future investment” is needed to “protect services”.
The rise, which comes into effect from April, will see the amount households pay for water and waste services rise by an average of 37p per week.
The utility firm stressed about half of the 2.6 million households it supplies receive a discount on the charges – which are collected alongside council tax payments – or are exempt entirely.
Chief executive Douglas Millican said: “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.”
He said the charges for 2023-24 had been “set at a level which recognise the need for significant future investment to protect services, and the current economic challenges faced by many”.
He continued: “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.”
The rise comes in the midst of the current cost-of-living crisis, and Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said many people are already struggling financially.
She 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.
“Scots are facing the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades, but Scottish Water are sitting on half-a-million 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.”
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 5%. 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% 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.”