THE Scottish government wants to scrap or cut the discount on water charges for people living alone.

Currently there is a 25% discount for single occupancy households, the same as with council tax.

A consultation has ended on changing the discount system from 2021 in which the government said there is “no justification” for providing discounts for single person households.

Instead it wants to double the water charge discount for people who get full council tax rebate to 50%.

Nicola Sturgeon was challenged on the proposals at first Minister’s Questions by Labour MSP Jackie Baillie.

Ms Sturgeon said there was no proposal and that no decision had been taken on the consultation.

She said: “We are currently reviewing the responses to the consultation but, crucially, any detailed changes to charging policies would be subject to further consultation with customers and stakeholders, in the course of the next year, prior to implementation in the 2021-27 period. I stress that absolutely no decisions have been taken on the issue.”

In the consultation document the Scottish Government states : “There is no service-related cost justification for providing discounts for single occupancy or for vacant properties. Whilst these properties may use less water, most costs in the industry are fixed (in the form of pipes and another infrastructure) and drainage costs are not dependent on the number of occupants. • Many single person households do not face issues of affordability – the discount is therefore simply a subsidy to them from other customers.”

It added: “Ministers therefore consider that there is a strong case for reducing or removing these discounts.”

Ms Baillie said: “in effect the Government is proposing to cut the discount. On that basis, will the First Minister rule out now any cut to the single-person discount for water?

“ No one would dispute the need to help the poorest more, but the Government should not fund that by taking money from lone pensioners on fixed incomes, who equally are struggling.”

She also said people will be worried this is the “thin end of the wedge” and the council tax discount could be at risk and ask for an assurance this would not be scrapped.

The government said the single person discount costs £85m and is rising as the number of single households increases.