Sir – It is not surprising that John Blundell argues in his article for the privatisation of Scottish Water (Loch Ness monster found: the sale of Scottish Water
, 2/3 April). After all, his organisation, the Institute of Economic Affairs, exists to champion the free market. However, he seems to have a poor grasp of the current situation in Scotland. He describes Scottish Water as “slothful”. In fact, Scottish Water is an organisation which has reduced costs by 40% since it was created in 2002, improved every aspect of customer service, increased customer satisfaction by 20%, changed nearly every process and done all this with more than 2,000 fewer staff. This is far from “slothful” in anyone’s books. Mr Blundell also argues that privatisation means “lower prices”. Yet already Scottish Water’s average household bill is lower than six of the private companies in England and Wales. This year, in the South West of England, household customers of the private utility serving that area will pay on average £162 more than customers of the public utility in Scotland.
Over the next four years, increases in bills for Scottish Water’s customers will be kept below inflation while many of the customers of privatised water utilities will see their bills increase significantly.
He says privatisation will “boost in-vestment”. Yet Scottish Water is already delivering the second largest investment programme of any of the water companies in the UK. If he had done a little more research, Mr Blundell would have discovered that the reality is not as he suggests.
Atholl S Duncan
Director of Corporate Affairs
Castle House, 6 Castle Drive
Carnegie Campus, Dunfermline
is Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs