Empty commercial properties face water charges

Owners of empty commercial properties will have to pay for water service charges from next year. The Scottish Government said the current exemption for vacant non-domestic properties will be removed […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Owners of empty commercial properties will have to pay for water service charges from next year.

The Scottish Government said the current exemption for vacant non-domestic properties will be removed on 1st April 2017.

Money raised as a result of the change will be used to maintain the current freeze in business charges.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the charging regime is “fair for everyone, broadly cost-effective and harmonised”.

She added: “The introduction of these charges is on the basis that vacant properties benefit from water and sewerage services and should therefore pay for them. It is expected to generate some £15 million a year additional wholesale revenue for Scottish Water, allowing business charges to be frozen.

“Without such a move, charges would have to increase by 5% over the period to 2021.”

The Scottish Government is also seeking views from the business sector about modernising the charging regime for unmeasured services such as surface and road drainage.

Earlier this year, Ofwat unveiled new standards aimed at protecting businesses, charities and public sector organisations when the retail water market opens up in England next year.