Competition in Business Water Supply
On April 1st 2017, the water industry in England is following Scotland by deregulating to allow competition for all business customers.
How will deregulation work?
The existing regional water companies will continue to manage the delivery of clean water and the return of waste water for treatment. Customer service and billing will be deregulated, allowing different organisations, known as retailers, to compete for these services.
Who are the water retailers?
You can expect to see new brands competing for your water supply. Many will be re-branded versions of the existing water companies, others will be new players.
Currently there are 20 suppliers with licences to offer retail services; some of the main names are shown below:
|Affinity for Business|
|Business Anglian Water|
|SES Business Water|
|Source for Business|
|South East Water Choice|
|Water 2 Business|
What are the benefits to you?
- Consolidation of suppliers and bills and electronic billing which will reduce administration costs.
- Discounts for business contracts- these will be <5%, but may vary by site and location.
- Greater choice of service offerings from your supplier, bundling of sewerage, better billing and customer service responses.
- In future new connections can also be managed through your supplier.
- Water efficiency advice.
- Improved/ bespoke metering solutions.
What are the risks to you (based on the Scottish experience)?
- Eventually each customer will have a Supply Point Identification Number (SPID) which should be provided to the supplier(s) of choice to provide a quote. There will be separate SPIDS for water and waste water for the same supply (if a supply has both services). It is unlikely that SPID’s will be on the bills by 1st April.
- Comparing quotes is difficult because suppliers are presenting their offers in a variety of different ways that do not allow like-for- like comparison.
- Data problems, particularly around change of supplier, which could impact accuracy and timing of billing.
- Onerous terms and conditions – including lock -in to contracts, and application of default rates if customer changes payment / miss payment.
- Market Operators not recognising sites.
- Poor billing.
- Issues with credit.
- Aggressive sales tactics.
How else can I save money on my water bills?
- Use less – check out the advice provided by your existing supplier who is obliged to provide advice on how you can reduce your water consumption – it is often easier than you think.
- Check that you are not being overcharged.
- Make sure your rateable value is correct as some water rates are based on this. Be aware business rates are changing in April so there could be a double impact if your rateable value is incorrect.