Householders’ support for water competition ‘depends on savings’

Two thirds of householders would welcome choice over their retail water supplier but expect competition to deliver significant savings on bills. That’s according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), which […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Two thirds of householders would welcome choice over their retail water supplier but expect competition to deliver significant savings on bills.

That’s according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), which states their freedom to shop around for a different retail supplier “hinges on the size of savings”.

It found only a third of customers said they were likely to switch when they were told actual savings could be as little as £4 to £8 on their water and sewerage bill.

The findings come as regulator Ofwat was asked by the government to assess the costs and benefits of offering customers in England a choice over who supplies their retail services such as water bills, meter readings, complaints and queries.

Ofwat is set to complete its review later this year and competition could be introduced as early as 2020.

CCWater said the biggest motivation for householders to consider switching suppliers would be lower prices rather than better customer service.

When asked how much they would need to save on their water bills to switch, 44% said more than £40 a year – which is more than the total value of retail services on the average water and sewerage bill.

CCWater CEO Tony Smith said: “Most customers like the idea of choice, especially if it can reduce their water and sewerage bills but many customers have made it clear that they will not waste their time shopping around if the savings are so small and fall well short of their expectations.”

From April 2017, 1.2 million eligible business customers, including charities and public sector organisations, in England will however be able to choose their water and wastewater retail services.