Scotland: SSP water campaign

Keaney Michael Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Sep 23 06:16:26 MDT 2002


Sheridan bids to abolish domestic water charges
 
By Alan Crawford
The Sunday Herald, 22 September 2002
 
The Scottish Socialist Party is to campaign on making water free of charge to domestic customers by shifting the balance of payments to the private sector.

In the latest of a series of announcements setting out SSP policy in the run up to the Scottish elections next May, Tommy Sheridan's party will tomorrow unveil its thinking on the future of Scotland's water, an issue it regards as central to next year's elections after recent contamination scares in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Planned moves include the winding up of the board of Scottish Water to be replaced with a new 'elected and accountable' body, the scrapping of PFI and opposition to the entry of private companies into the water network.

However, in a direct appeal to every householder in Scotland, the party will announce plans to abolish domestic water charges, a measure it says is 'part of our general drive to redress the balance of income and wealth in Scotland'.

This would dovetail with the party's policy on replacing Council Tax with a Scottish Service Tax, which directly taxes personal income.

According to SSP figures, a total of around £884.3 million will be levied in water charges for 2002-2003, of which business pays 28%. Domestic customers pay 63%, while the public and voluntary sector contribute nine per cent.

The party is still finalising its proposed mechanism for charging business but it is working on two systems -- one based on turnover and the other on rateable value of the premises occupied.

The SSP policy document states : 'For business it would be a drop in the ocean but for pensioners, lone parents, people who are disabled, low paid workers and students the abolition of water charges would make a significant difference to their disposable income.'

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