Raising awareness of the retail water market

ccw logoFewer than one in ten businesses may be aware they will soon be able to switch water retailers, according to research from the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

With less than four months to go until the opening of the non-household water market in England in April 2017, the consumer watchdog CCWater says that a lack of awareness could see many businesses, including those in the hospitality and tourism industry, miss out on the potential benefits of competition.

The reforms will allow new retailers to enter the English market and compete to provide all businesses and other non-household customers with customer-facing services, including billing, meter reading and dealing with customer enquiries. An annual water consumption threshold of 50 million litres will be retained for non-household sites in Wales.

A retail water market opens up opportunities for organisations, particularly those that are dependent on mains water supplies. Customers could save money or access new services that could benefit their business by switching or renegotiating with their current service provider. Retailers could also offer support in the form of added-value services like efficiency audits that could root out water wastage from leaky pipes or malfunctioning appliances in kitchens and lavatories.

But research carried out by CCWater earlier this year revealed that while 60 per cent of business customers supported the idea of competition, only eight per cent were aware that the market is set to open in 2017.

Because awareness is particularly low among smaller businesses, CCWater is working with representative organisations, like the British Hospitality Association, to put customers in the picture and answer questions.

Evan Joanette, CCWater’s Policy Manager, said: “Competition could deliver benefits for businesses in the hospitality sector. Larger customers have told us that they would be interested in services like consolidated billing across multiple sites and help managing their water usage. Smaller shops want to avoid unexpected surprises and would value accurate and timely bills.”

“CCWater does not want anyone to miss out because they are unaware of these changes, which is why we are doing all we can to raise awareness.”

Businesses that would like to find out more about the changes to the retail water market can visit www.ccwater.org.uk/business-customers or email marketreform@ccwater.org.uk.

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