On April 1st the world’s largest competitive water market officially opened, allowing over a million businesses, charities and public sector customers in England and Wales to choose their water and wastewater retailer.
The market has been structured to follow the success of a similar market opening in Scotland in 2008 and is expected to deliver up to £200 million of benefits to the economy and water customers over the next 30 years, encouraging new companies and innovation within the sector and creating greater efficiency, services and reduction in costs.
Eligible companies are no longer restricted to buying retail water services from their regional water company and can now choose their water retailer, with 22 licensed companies currently operating within the market. Businesses can also choose to have one retailer for water supply, and another for wastewater services, or simply one for both, based on the retailer providing the best business deals on bills and payment, reading your meter and customer service and water saving advice.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has worked alongside market regulator Ofwat to oversee the delivery of water retail competition in England, along with Market Operator Services Limited (MOSL) which will operate the market on behalf of its water company members to make sure there is a smooth transition for all customers.
Andrea Leadsom, the environment secretary, said: “Opening the market is an historic milestone, paving the way for innovation and efficiency and giving customers the same choice over their water retailer as they currently have for their energy and other essential services.”
Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross said: “Business customers have been crying out for choice over their provider of water and wastewater services for years. From today businesses, charities and public sector organisations in England will be able to choose their retailer to get a better deal.”
Water contracts worth billions of pounds are expected to be awarded to utilities over the coming weeks.
Plans by the Government to open up the market for domestic customers could save households up to £3 billion, according to Ofwat.