Raising awareness of retail water market competition in England

The Consumer Council for Water explains a change that is coming to the non-household water market in England:

From April 2017, licensed retail suppliers will be competing to provide 1.2 million businesses and other non-household customers with services like billing, meter reading and managing queries.  Wholesale water supply and sewerage services will remain the responsibility of traditional water companies.

Currently, sites have to use five million litres of mains water per year to be eligible to switch but this threshold is dropping to zero, effectively opening up competition to all businesses. In Wales, the threshold is staying at 50 million litres, a Welsh Government decision.

In England, this means that all golf club managers will be able to choose whether to switch to another water retailer or renegotiate with their current supplier.  That could open up opportunities for clubs to shop around for reduced bills or new services. Clubs that rely on mains supplies could be interested in working with retailers that will help them manage consumption, assist with leakage detection or offer advice about on-site water storage or irrigation.  Clubs with relatively low mains water spend may simply want suppliers to deliver timely bills and spot any problems to prevent billing surprises. Ultimately, any customer will vote with their feet and switch if service is not up to par.

However, research by the industry watchdog, Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), shows that awareness of these upcoming changes is low. This could lead to many businesses missing out on the potential benefits of competition. Its findings show that while 60 per cent of business customers supported the idea of competition, only eight per cent were aware that the water market is set to open. CCWater has reached out to the GCMA to help it get the message out to clubs so that those who want to participate can do so.

You can find out more about the changes to the water market here, or by emailing [email protected].


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