April 1 2017 was a crucial date for the water supply market. It was the date on which the water supply market in England became deregulated. This means that businesses in England are no longer restricted to using an appointed regional supplier for their water and wastewater services. Deregulation also applies to charities and schools.
So what does it all mean and how will it impact on your business? Before deregulation only large businesses that used more than 50 megalitres of water annually were eligible to switch suppliers. Smaller businesses had no choice; they were forced to use their appointed provider even if they received a poor standard of service. If they were dissatisfied with the service provided, their only resource was to lodge a formal complaint. Now any business that uses non-domestic premises in England is eligible to switch; altogether, around 1.2 million businesses have been liberated.
How can other regions supply water?
Of course, when you switch suppliers the water in your taps doesn’t change. It comes from the same sources and treatment plants as before. In fact, there are two different kinds of water suppliers. Those that hold an exclusively retail licence can use an appointed water supplier’s infrastructure to provide water to their customers. Effectively they purchase water from the appointed supplier at retail prices, then sell this on to their own customers usually packaged as part of a deal that includes additional value added services.
Alternatively, some suppliers have what is called a ‘combined licence’. This allows them to sell on water as described above, but they are also permitted to introduce water into the appointed water company’s system, so they are effectively selling their own water.
But will it save my business money?
Deregulation can save you money. New suppliers will be attracted to this open market as they will have the opportunity of providing greater value for money to businesses than had been available in the past. Typically they will be more flexible than the great behemoths of the water supply industry, offer better standards of service, and have a more creative approach to the business.
But it might not happen overnight. Scotland deregulated its water supply market back in 2008, but it was a few years before Scottish businesses saw a significant impact on their bottom line. However there is no doubt that in the long term it has been of significant benefit; over half of Scottish businesses have switched their supplier and combined savings of £65 million have been achieved.
What to look for when comparing water suppliers
The water supply market should become even more favourable for businesses in the long term, but you can start saving money and benefit from additional services right now. While price is an important criterion, it isn’t the only one. For instance if two or more suppliers are offering similar pricing, there are other things to look at. For instance, how they read your meter, levels of customer service, billing, help and advice on water saving measures, and so forth.
If your business has multiple locations in different regions, then you could save on overheads by unifying your water supply and wastewater services across all your locations.
Your next step
Water deregulation brings a host of potential benefits to business in England with the opportunity to reduce costs and streamline the supply chain. For more help and advice on the potential benefits of switching your water supplier, visit water deregulation on our services page at TEQ Group to see how to optimise your water and wastewater services.Contact TEQ Group Contact Enerteq