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Since 2011, businesses in England using 5000m3 or more of water a year have been able to buy their water from a number of licensed providers as well as their regional water company.
From April 2017, the English water market will be fully open to competition so all businesses, irrespective of how much water they use, can choose their water and wastewater supplier.
This is already in place in Scotland, with a fully open market since 2008.
What water competition means for your business
Competition in the water market will allow businesses to switch their water and wastewater retailer, giving you the freedom to find the best supplier to suit your business needs.
The regulator is bringing in measures to improve transparency and ensure better outcomes for customers through competition.
Wholesaler and retailer services
With competition there will be separation of the wholesale and retail businesses enabling an open playing field for water retailers to operate across England and Wales.
- Wholesale - The delivery of water, the management of the pipe network and treatment plants and the removal and treatment of wastewater. The wholesaler will also set the tariffs.
- Retail - All customer-facing services such as billing, meter readings, call centre services and water efficiency advice. This is where competition will apply.
How we’re getting ready for water competition
Here at United Utilities, we’re working hard to improve our service to businesses so that our customers will choose to stay with us.
We’re focusing on better understanding customer needs to provide value for money and great customer service. So far we have:
- Created a separate business retail division designed around business customer needs with a dedicated call centre.
- Introduced a new billing system and management platform designed for business customers.
- Begun work on a new website specifically for business customers which is due to go live this year.
We've been competing effectively in Scotland since 2011 and supply over 3000 sites, from the iconic Hampden Park Stadium to all of Tesco’s Scottish stores. Our success in Scotland has been achieved by offering businesses dedicated day to day support, bespoke pricing, and commitment to helping customers be more water efficient.
How you can get ready
With a go live date of April 2017, you have plenty of time to prepare your business for the changes.
Ensure your businesses data is accurate and up to date (i.e. site area data, meter data, and charges and tariffs data). This will enable you to get accurate quotes and have a simple switching process.
Find out more about water competition
To help you make sense of the key terms you might encounter regarding the water market, we have compiled a competition glossary for you.
If you are interested in learning more about competition in the water market, we have collated some of the key documents and research currently available, as well as useful links to external websites.
• The Water Act 2014
• Defra Policy Paper
• Ofwat website
• Open Water
• Scotland on Tap
• Consumer Council for Water
We'll be updating these pages regularly to keep you informed of the latest changes in the market, so make sure you check back regularly.