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Northern Powerhouse European Union

Thousands take advantage of new water market

Nearly 9,000 companies have already switched their water supplier since the non-domestic water market opened to competition on 1 April – with efficiency savings and lower prices up for grabs.

Nearly 9,000 companies have already switched their water supplier since the non-domestic water market opened to competition on 1 April – with efficiency savings and lower prices up for grabs.

All businesses, charities and public sector organisations in England and Wales are now able to switch their water and wastewater retailer for the first time.

Companies are being urged to conduct water audits and shop around for a better service package or negotiate a better detail with their existing retailer – much like the energy market.

Water efficiency

As well as the opportunity of a lower price for water, companies can also seek more tailored services from suppliers, such as better water usage data, industry benchmarking and support to improve water efficiency.

Companies that have multiple sites or operate in high-water usage sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, leisure, education, retail and commercial property are most likely to benefit.

In Scotland, which has had an open water market since 2008, an estimated £40 million worth of water efficiency savings have been achieved by customers, on top of £52 million in price discounts.

More than twenty water retailers are currently licensed to operate in the market, including new ventures, incumbent water companies, and large companies that have gained a license to supply their own water to multiple sites. These include pub retailer Greene King, the Whitbread Group and vehicle servicing chain, Kwik Fit. 

‘Game changer’

Sarah Hendry, director of Defra, said “the largest market of its kind in the world” had been delivered exactly on time.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the new service offering that will emerge from retailers, including helping businesses of all sizes, charities and the public sector to increase their water efficiency. We have already seen real change, with new competitors entering the market and a number of joint ventures between water companies.”

Cathryn Ross, chief executive of Ofwat, added: “The opening of the water retail market is a game changer for the sector and its customers. From talking to businesses we know that many see how they could save time and money.”

Guidance for how to make the most of the new market is available here.