Earlier this year, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) and BHA told members that competition was coming to the water sector. In April, some 1.2 million non-household customers were given access to a market where they could decide to switch retail service provider or negotiate a better price or service with their existing provider. The hospitality sector has shown very visible signs of leading on engagement with several well-known brands like Greene King and Whitbread actually setting themselves up as self-supply retailers.
Around 2 per cent of eligible premises are understood to have switched so far. Large businesses that rely heavily on mains water or operate from multiple sites may have sought out a retailer to help them manage consumption or consolidate bills. Smaller organisations may simply be shopping around for a retailer that can offer timelier meter readings and work with them to prevent bill surprises. A website - www.open-water.org.uk - has been set up to identify who is operating in the new market.
CCWater, the independent water watchdog, says awareness of service provider choice among non-household customers is climbing, and is now around 4 in 10. However, the question it really wants to answer is whether the market has brought about the service improvements it was meant to for consumers.
CCWater’s Policy Manager, Evan Joanette, is asking BHA members to get in touch about their experiences, which could help to shape the development of the market.
“We want to hear from you if you’ve switched to a new retailer, re-negotiated with your existing one, or tried unsuccessfully to do either. It will take an hour over the phone to speak to our research partner and your feedback will remain anonymous.”
Contact the watchdog at email@example.com if you can help with their research or if you have any questions about the retail water market.