Guest Blog: Dave Cockshott: The tide is turning for England’s water market

From better billing to cheaper prices, our friends across the border have enjoyed the benefits of water market competition for eight years, but Water deregulation is finally coming to England […]

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By george marshall

From better billing to cheaper prices, our friends across the border have enjoyed the benefits of water market competition for eight years, but Water deregulation is finally coming to England next year. From April 2017, businesses in England will be able to switch water providers and benefit from potential improvements to price, product and service.

So what does this mean? Primarily, this will mark the beginning of the end of England’s regional monopoly on water. In practice, it means more competition and the chance to switch providers and shift all your sites under one supplier. It might even mean better discounts available, better service and better products.

What’s changed?

In the past, only those businesses using more than 5ML could choose to switch supplier. This didn’t hold much appeal, as it didn’t affect waste water services and meant that benefits were limited and invoicing made more complex by switching.

From April 2017 all non-domestic companies from all sectors, regardless of size or usage levels, will have the opportunity to choose their provider. The water received will stay the same – the infrastructure will remain in the control of the incumbent supplier – but the account provider can be chosen.

What will it mean for me?

More competition should mean water suppliers are forced to offer better customer service, competitive prices, added value services and billing system improvements to retain existing customers and attract new ones.

Managing multiple invoices from multiple suppliers has long been a head ache for utility procurement managers. At the very least, consolidating several accounts into one will simplify matters: but it could also lead to better prices too.

Since competition was introduced in Scotland in 2008, discounts available from Scottish providers have grown to up to 25%. We expect English businesses to experience similar benefits once deregulation takes effect, meaning businesses would do well to familiarise themselves with their water data now, to be in prime position to benefit as soon as the markets open up.

Act now and take control of your water data

The market officially opens up in April, but we’ll see changes begin to happen from this October.

By October, all suppliers need to confirm whether they want to remain in the retail market and new suppliers will have to outline how they will position themselves in the market. This should be the first real indication of what the English market could look like for businesses.

October is also the first opportunity for businesses to give notice of their intention to switch to a new licensed provider. Those who do nothing will remain with their incumbent supplier, unless the supplier withdraws from the market, in which case they will be “redistributed” to another provider. This could mean missing out on discounts and benefits.

Get your ducks in a row

Inenco can also support businesses with a full water audit, making sure your ducks are in a row and your business is best placed to take advantage of competition. Inenco’s water audit is a comprehensive review of how water is used in an organisation, combined with a thorough assessment of the quality of data and full charting of usage trends. Inenco can also support businesses with a full data cleanse; combining this with accurate information gathered from site survey findings, to compile recommendations for cost savings opportunities and ensure businesses are armed with an accurate site and meter list ahead of deregulation.

Inenco has created an online resource hub to provide you with all the information you need to understand deregulation and how it impacts you. The Water hub provides news, sector guides, briefings and a discussion forum to put questions to Inenco’s water experts. Visit www.watermarket.info for more information on timescales, how your sector could be impacted, and what action to take.

To see Inenco’s More Than Y? Report Water deregulation special, visit: www.inenco.com/more-than-y-report/

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