Brendan Flattery, the new CEO of Utilitywise has told ELN he believes the water market can be run cleanly and he would welcome regulation of the TPI sector.
Speaking after an online survey of 453 businesses by Utilitywise revealed just a quarter felt informed about water deregulation, Mr Flattery said it was important this new market would operate transparently.
He told ELN: “It’s something which matters at lot to me. What I would hope is the market takes advantage of the deregulation in water to continue to move forward in the right direction. I think ultimately customers will choose who are the best businesses to work with because of the quality of the advice they receive.”
Asked if fees paid to brokers by suppliers should be revealed Mr Flattery was clear: “We don’t have to disclose that (fees) today and clearly, the bill our customers get would be from the supplier but you know, I would absolutely welcome the day there is regulation. For us as a business which prides itself on that impartiality and doing things right for our customers, I would absolutely welcome it.”
Deregulation in England and Wales starts in April. The survey found a big difference between the level of knowledge and preparedness regionally. Around 40% of businesses in the north and south said they felt informed but only 20% of those in the midlands said the same.
There was also a marked difference between the attitudes of big companies and SMEs with just a fifth of small firms saying they knew what was happening.
Lack of direction
With little information coming from Ofwat or the water market body MOSL, Mr Flattery believes there’s a huge knowledge gap out there.
“I think there is a real lack of information, I think it goes right across the board, government in general – all of these bodies have the onus to provide information to SME businesses in particular. You get this gap for whatever reason and it’s incumbent on businesses like us to step in, just to provide them with independence and impartiality. That’s why we have a free helpline and news service.
“It’s going to get really confusing, you’re going to have 18 providers coming up with competing messages and my advice to SMEs would be start to plan now, don’t jump at the first opportunity.”