Tax claims over English water firm in Scots deal

An English water firm in the running to win a lucrative £350 million contract in Scotland has been accused of “avoiding millions in tax”, according to a leading Green MSP.

Picture: TSPL

Alison Johnstone says she is “appalled” after it emerged at the weekend that the deal to supply public bodies across Scotland could go to Anglian Water. The deal would see publicly owned Scottish Water’s commercial offshoot Business Stream losing out.

She has even lodged a Holyrood motion claiming the firm is accused by Corporate Watch of “avoiding millions in tax by routing profits through tax havens.”

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This is done through “high-interest loans from their owners through the Channel Islands stock exchange”, according to Ms Johnstone’s motion.

The Lothians MSP said today: “It is deeply concerning that the Scottish Government appears to be about to award this massive contract, worth £350million over 3 years, to Anglian Water, so any profits will flow out of Scottish economy.

“At the moment the billing and servicing of water for council buildings, hospitals, universities, prisons and the Scottish Parliament is carried out by Business Stream, so any profits come back to publicly-owned Scottish Water.”

The requirement to compete for public contracts for Water and Waste Water Services was introduced through legislation 10 years ago. EU rules stipulate that public contracts must be competed for, even when a publicly-owned company is capable of delivering the service.

Bidders are understood to have learnt the valuation results and there is now a 10-day standstill period during which the decision can be challenged before the contract is awarded.