Reforming the Scottish water industry : one year on

Sawkins, John W (1997) Reforming the Scottish water industry : one year on. Quarterly Economic Commentary, 22 (3). pp. 31-43. ISSN 0306-7866

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On 1st April 1996 the Scottish water industry was restructured as part of the wider process of local government reform. Under the terms of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 responsibility for the delivery of water and sewerage services transferred from the twelve regional and islands councils to three new public water authorities. As part of the same reform package the Central Scotland Water Development Board was abolished and a new body, the Scottish Water and Sewerage Customers Council (SWSCC), established. Taken together these changes amounted to the most radical institutional restructuring in over two decades. And for those working in the industry, they signalled the beginning of a period of heightened uncertainty, increased change and rapid innovation. The first anniversary of this event is an appropriate juncture at which to review and analyse the reform process. This paper addresses that task by discussing the rationale underpinning the institutional changes, before highlighting particular aspects of the way in which the new regime has functioned. The future of the industry is discussed and proposals are made for further institutional reforms.