Have we been April Fooled? It’s been 3 months since the water market deregulated, and small businesses are still locked out of £200 million worth of savings
Dear Secretary of State,
On 1st April this year the English non-domestic water market deregulated, with the stated aim of “increasing competition and creating opportunities like lower bills and better service”.
We supported water market deregulation, and estimated that small businesses could save around 10% or more from their water bills by switching or renegotiating their current deal – resulting in £200 million worth of collective savings across England.
However, we feel that we’ve all been taken for an April Fool.
Three months after 1st April, less than 1% of businesses have changed water supplier. In other words, less than 1% of businesses have overcome the difficulties required to complete a switch. On top of this, Utilitywise’s new research shows that just one in four businesses feel informed about the impact of water market deregulation on their business. It is clearly not an open market working at its best.
With deliberately confusing and non-standardised pricing and Ofwat not doing enough to promote the open market, it’s near impossible for small businesses to take advantage of the savings as they don’t have the time required to interact with approximately 20 suppliers separately.
In your new role as Secretary of State, we’re calling on you to support our three-point plan to make the water market truly open, honest and competitive:
- Improve levels of understanding amongst businesses, encouraging them to review their current water contracts
- Enforce standardised and simplified pricing that is published in the public domain, giving businesses the chance to easily compare like-for-like water contracts and ensure all retailers are making prices available to out of region customers
- Ensure that customers receive clear offers and tariffs from retailers no matter their location, by standardising the use of customer data held in MOSL, the central customer database used by the industry