Governance and Compliance

We take our responsibilities and obligations as a licenced provider of water services very seriously

We work with a number of independent bodies and regulators to ensure that we’re fully compliant with the rules and regulations that govern our industry. This way we can focus on providing the best service to our customers as a trusted supplier.

Business Stream and Scottish Water

Find out the answers to your questions on the difference between Business Stream and Scottish Water.

How does Business Stream's role differ from that of Scottish Water?

Scottish Water is the wholesaler of water in Scotland whilst Business Stream is one of a number of licensed providers of water. This means that Scottish Water owns and operates the country’s water infrastructure, while Business Stream provides retail water and sewerage services to the country’s businesses.

Whilst we are both part of the Scottish Water group we are legally separate companies and strict rules ensure that we stay separate to ensure a level playing field for all competitors in the non-domestic market.

What is Business Stream's relationship to Scottish Water?

In order to promote the independence of Business Stream, Scottish Water established a holding company (Scottish Water Business Stream Holdings Limited) to take responsibility for its interest in Business Stream, which is a subsidiary of Scottish Water Horizons Holdings Limited. Therefore, although Business Stream was created directly from Scottish Water, it operates at arm’s length.

Business Stream operates as a standalone company. The relationship between Business Stream, SWBSH and Scottish Water is monitored by the regulator, the Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland.

Does Business Stream's relationship with Scottish Water give it an advantage in the market?

No. Before Business Stream was awarded its licence, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland implemented governance arrangements which ensure independent decision making for Scottish Water as wholesaler and Business Stream as retailer. This requirement is unique to Business Stream as the incumbent retailer, and ensures a level playing field in the market.

What's the reason for separating the two?

The impetus for the Scottish Government moving to deregulate the retail market was to enable non-domestic water customers to benefit from the impact of competition – ie increased choice, better service and greater value.

As the water wholesaler and infrastructure owner Scottish Water could not do that, so Business Stream was created as a separate organisation to compete shoulder to shoulder with other suppliers in the newly opened retail market.

Standards of service

We want our customers to be happy. So we set ourselves high standards.  We commit to meeting a certain level of service.  We’ll do our utmost to put things right if you have a problem. If we fail, we’ll compensate you. It’s only fair.

Standards of Service for Scotland

Our service standards Compensation
1. We will respond to written or telephone complaints within eight working days. £20
2. We will respond to invoice queries within ten working days (five for change of payment method). £20
3. We will give 24 hours' notice if we cancel or move an appointment. £20
4. We will warn you of any planned interruptions 48 hours in advance and restore supply on time. £50 (£25 for every 12 hours delay)
5. We will restore supply within 12 hours if there is an unplanned interruption (48 hours for a strategic main supplying a large area). £50 (£25 for every 12 hours delay)
6. If you call our emergency number because water is coming from your gas appliances, we'll contact Scottish Water and call you straight back. £20
7. If your property is damaged from flooding, we'll refund your annual wastewater charge. Up to £1,000
8. If you ask for a water meter to be fitted, we'll arrange for a survey on your property and let you know the results within ten working days. £20
9. If you contact us about problems with your water pressure, we'll investigate and let you know the problem within five working days. £20
10. If there's an emergency that affects your water supply, you'll get updates every 48 hours. 5 -15% of water and waste water charge
11. We'll let you know about any changes to maximum tariffs within 10 working days. £20
12. If you claim because we've failed to meet any of the above, we'll credit your account within ten business days. £20
About these standards 

These standards are based on the default standards set by our regulator, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland.

Standards of Service for England

GSS Regulation GSS Payment Late payment penalty
Appointments not made properly £20 £10
Appointments not kept £20 £10
Incidences of low water pressure £25 -
Incorrect notice of planned interruptions to supply £50 £50
Supply not restored(*) – initial period £50 £50
Supply not restored(*) – each further 24 hours £25 £50
Written account queries and requests to change payment arrangements not actioned on time £20 £10
Written complaints not actioned on time £20 £10
Properties sewer flooded internally Payment equal to annual sewerage charges (Minimum payment of £150. Maximum of £1000) £50
Properties materially affected sewer flooded externally Payment equal to 50% of annual sewerage charges (Minimum payment of £75. Maximum of £500) £50

(*) Supply not restored within time notified (planned work) or when supply is interrupted for an extended time under unplanned/emergency situations.

About these standards

These standards are based on the minimum standards of service and minimum payments to which customers are entitled, as laid down by the Government.  In some cases, we will pay out more.


If you’re not happy about our service for any reason and you want to make a claim against these service standards, let us know.


If you’re unhappy with the outcome of a complaint, or feel we haven’t handled something well, you can raise the issue with one of two organisations that regulate our service.

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) is the final stage for complaints about most organisations that provide public services in Scotland and some non-domestic licensed providers, including Business Stream. Their service is independent, free and confidential.

The SPSO will normally only consider a complaint after you have completed our complaints procedure.

The SPSO cannot normally look at complaints:

  • more than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about
  • that have been or are being considered in court.

If you remain dissatisfied once you have completed our complaints procedure, contact the SPSO for advice and request a complaint form on freephone 0800 377 7330, via their website at, or by writing to:

Freepost EH641

04 February 2014 - SPSO issues report

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland is our regulator. It grants our licence, and sets out the conditions under which we operate. It also advises Scottish ministers about the minimum standards we should provide to customers.


The Consumer Council for Water is the independent representative of water consumers in England.


If you are unsatisfied with the outcome provided by CCWater, you can contact the Water Industry Redress Scheme (WATRS). WATRS independently settles disputes between customers and the water and sewerage companies in England.


If you are unsatisfied with the outcome provided to you by WATRS, you can contact Ofwat. Ofwat are the economic regulator of the water sector in England they are a non-ministerial government department.

Our licences

Our licences, granted by the Water Industry Commission, allow us to operate in Scotland and provide water and waste water services to business customers.

Passing the test

Because Business Stream is a new water retailer that was created directly from Scottish Water, many steps have been taken to avoid giving us an unfair advantage over other new retailers. In particular, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland set Business Stream the following three tests in order to ensure that we are operating at arm’s length from Scottish Water:

  • Robust and demonstrable separation between wholesale and retail businesses must be evident.
  • Governance arrangements must ensure independent decision making for Business Stream and Scottish Water.
  • Business Stream must demonstrate financial viability.

Our ability to pass all three tests has been recognised in the granting of our water and sewerage services licences.

You can read a summary on how we have achieved this by clicking on the topics below:

In addition, Business Stream must continue to maintain independent decision making beyond the granting of the licences. Our independent decision making document [PDF, 77KB] will give you more information about this.

Freedom of information

Everyone has the right to access certain types of business information and records held by public bodies such as Business Stream.

Our publication scheme

Under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, we have to keep and update a 'publication scheme'. This sets out the information we routinely make available to the public. Our scheme has to be approved by the Scottish Information Commissioner, who's responsible for enforcing the Act.

To find out more about the Freedom of Information Act and our publications, to make a Freedom of Information request please see the guide to information available through the Model Publication Scheme [PDF, 76KB] or contact: 

Rosemary Agnew,
Scottish Information Commissioner,
Kinburn Castle,
Doubledykes Road,
St Andrews,
KY16 9DS

Telephone: 0133 446 4610
Fax: 0133 446 4611


Scottish Water carry out byelaws inspections on businesses to make sure that plumbing and water pipes are up to scratch.


If your business is at risk of contaminating the water supply, perhaps you manufacture something, then Scottish Water will probably visit to inspect your site to check your pipe work and processes.

They have the power to enforce necessary changes to make sure that you’re compliant with the law. It can be a criminal offence to knowingly ignore their instruction; they could even shut your business down.

Reducing risk

If you’re in any doubt about which byelaws could affect your business then get in touch with us. We’ve got years of experience dealing with these challenges.

How we can help

To remove the risk of getting a hefty fine or worst still, having your business shut down, we’ll work with you to find the best solution.

To make sure that you’re on the front foot we can offer your business a byelaws health check. We’ll audit your sites to identify any risky areas and propose how to mitigate the chance of prosecution.

If you’ve already been served with a report from Scottish Water and need help addressing the issues then we’re on hand to fix them. We’ll put a team together to ensure you become compliant.

Just get in touch with us as soon as you can for a swift response.

Our anti-bribery policy

The Bribery Act 2010 aims to stamp out acts of bribery in British business conduct in the UK and abroad.

We have taken this new Act seriously

These are some of the changes we are making to mitigate the risk of bribery and to protect our business.

  • We are now operating a standalone anti-bribery policy.
  • We have amended our Whistleblowing policy to cover our suppliers.
  • We have put a freeze on gifts and hospitality during and prior to periods of tendering.
  • Our Conditions of contract for the purchase of goods and services and Management services agreement documents now reference the Act.
  • And our pre-qualification questionnaire for suppliers also now references the Act.

For more details download our full policy document. [206 KB | PDF]

Health and Safety Statement

You can read our Health and Safety General Policy Statement here.

Our Anti-Slavery Annual Statement

Business Stream has a zero tolerance for modern slavery and respects human rights, including children’s rights and is committed to supporting efforts to promote zero tolerance principles and practices related to the prevention of the exploitation and abuse associated with modern slavery, human trafficking, forced, bonded and child labour as defined in the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The Act states that every business in the UK with a total annual turnover of 36m or more, which applies to Business Stream, will be required to produce a statement of the steps taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery, human trafficking, forced, bonded and child labour is not taking place both within our business and that of our supply chain.

For more details download our current anti-slavery statement for financial year 2016/17.

Unacceptable actions policy

At Business Stream we believe that our customers and employees have the right to be heard, understood and respected.

Unacceptable behaviour

Very occasionally we encounter customers who make unacceptable demands upon our staff or behave towards them in an unacceptable manner. To protect our staff and ensure that our other customers do not suffer as a result of unacceptable behaviour, we have an unacceptable actions policy

If you would like to find out more about what we consider to be an unacceptable action or our approach to managing such actions please refer to our unacceptable actions policy.


Our charges for water and waste water services are updated on 1 April every year. They are based upon the default services, standards and maximum tariffs which are updated and published each year by the industry regulator, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland. You can see all of charges for all of our services here, so you’ll know what to expect on this year’s bill.

Any changes to our charges take effect from 1 April each new financial year, so if your bill includes services from before then, the costs for these services will be split according to the appropriate proto charge you the appropriate rates for each financial year.

If you have any questions about how this affects your bill, feel free to get in touch.

Terms and Conditions

For more information relating to our services, please see our Terms and Conditions. 

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