‘Ultimate market madness’, UNISON’s statement on privatisation Scottish Water services

Date: Tuesday 6 October 2015

Dave Watson, head of UNISON Scotland bargaining and campaigns, said:

“UNISON is deeply disappointed that the contract for Scotland’s public sector water and wastewater services is to be awarded to a privatised utility.  In fairness, the Scottish Government had few options because the system of retail water competition is the ultimate in market madness. £350m will be paid to Anglian Water in Huntingdon, only for most of that money to be repaid to Scottish Water in wholesale charges. The cost of this crazy system is picked up by the taxpayer.”

“The claimed headline savings include water efficiency measures that should be undertaken anyway and is often included to spin out the alleged benefits of retail competition.”

“This procurement also highlights the importance of addressing tax dodging in procurement, an issue UNISON and other civil society organisations campaigned for during the passage of the Procurement Act. There should be pre-qualification disclosure of company taxation policies and public bodies should be able to evaluate a tender on the basis of which company pays tax or not. Assessment of bids could make use of the Fair Tax Mark.”

‘We have always said that Scottish water should stay in Scotland in public hands it works, is good value for money and water customers support the corporation staying in public hands.”


Corporate Watch report that Anglian paid £151 million to its private owners, but just £1 million in tax in 2012, after an operating profit of £363 million. It avoids millions in tax by routing profits through tax havens by way of taking on high-interest loans from their owners through the Channel Islands stock exchange.

Ten Asks: https://unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/Procurement-10asks-regs+guidance_Apr2015.pdf

UNISON is the public sector union, the biggest union in Scotland. UNISON represents workers in Scottish Water and BusinessStream


Dave Watson, UNISON head of campaigns, 07958 122 409
Danny Phillips, communications officer, 07944 664 110