How is the water market changing?

Since 1st April 2017 more than 1 million businesses in England have had the freedom to choose the Retailer for their water and wastewater retail services.

Thanks to market deregulation, you are able to contract your water services in a similar way to how you already negotiate your gas and electricity costs.  The local Wholesaler, who provides the water and takes away your wastewater, remains the same. The key difference is that you can choose which Retailer handles your meter reading, billing and customer services.

Why is deregulation good?

  • You can negotiate a better deal
  • You’ll be able to switch if you don’t like the service you receive
  • If you have multiple locations across the country you’ll be able to select one supplier for all the sites

A further significant change is that a range of new licensed Retailers are now able to join the market. These new-entrants are competing against the existing, established Wholesalers, most of which are also setting up as Retailers.

You are probably hoping you’ll be able to make significant savings on your water costs, like those available when the energy market deregulated. Sadly, this won’t be the case, as Retailers can only compete on the retail element of your costs. The larger wholesale cost remains the same. Retailers are only able to offer discounts in the region of 1% to 2%. As an example, if you spend £150,000 each year, you are likely to save a maximum of between £1,500 & £3,000 per annum.


How can I drive more benefit from the changes?

Take the time to think about what you really want from your Retailer. If customer service is important to you then choose one with a proven track record or that places this at the very heart of what they do.

It is also important to consider what non-cost benefits would make a positive impact on your business.

For example –

  • Would online account management make coordinating your supplies and invoices easier?
  • Would you find it easier to have a dedicated account manager?
  • What payment options does your company prefer?


What should I do now?

Feedback has been that as expected, with the market in its early stages, some customers are experiencing issues with bills not being issued and quoted prices being inaccurate. Retailers are not surprisingly having to recruit staff from outside of the industry which is being reflected in some of these service issues.

If you are having issues or wish to look to improve your service, the best option is to contact your Retailer and see how they can help. In time it is expected that there will be a greater financial benefit from looking elsewhere, as we have seen in Scotland.

Should you want more information or a list of Retailers, here is a link – peck here