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Changes to the Water Market

The water market it changing. Find out how it affects you

You may have heard that something is happening in the water market. Here’s the lowdown…

When is this happening?

From the 1st April 2017 eligible Businesses, Charites and Public Sector customers will be able to choose who to buy water from.  Business customers in Scotland have been able to switch their water provider since 2008.  Unfortunately, businesses in Northern Ireland, Wales and domestic customers across the UK won’t have the ability to switch yet.

What’s changing?

Don’t panic, the water supply will remain uninterrupted. There’s no national grid, so the actual water you receive will be the same. It’s just the supplier name on the bill and the price you pay that may change.

Thanks to the opening of the competitive market, it will be possible to make a saving (albeit potentially small) on your water and wastewater bill. You can also expect better customer service from your water provider, as well as innovative tariffs and products geared towards saving you even more money by reducing the amount of water you’re using.

Prior to 1st April, your new provider (if applicable) will have contacted you to introduce itself and communicated any details of the changeover. Unless you decide to make any changes, or the supplier contacts you, your price will stay the same at this stage.

At the moment, there are two types of water provider, wholesalers and retailers. Wholesalers, much like in the energy market, control the actual product, whereas a retailer sells to the customer. It will be the one to send out bills and dictate the price you pay.

Some wholesalers have made the decision to set up retail arms in lieu of the opening of the market to service their existing non-domestic customers. Some have delegated business customers to another retail company and others have set up joint ventures with other providers to provide a service to these customers. There are also independent water suppliers in the market, not affiliated with any wholesaler.

What are the options?

  1. Do nothing – When the market opens you will simply be transferred over to your new retailer and unless they contact you your price will remain the same
  2. You can contact your new retailer and ask them if you are on the best price they can offer you
  3. Companies like the FSB can search the market to find you a great price either with your existing supplier or an alternative supplier
  4. Respond to a direct cold call from an intermediary or alternative supplier

Water switching works in a very similar way to energy switching. Your supply comes in and out of your premises through a meter which has a unique Supply Point Identifier (SPID). The water companies will use this to transfer over billing responsibility for your business premises. 

The switch will take around 20 days to complete and you will have 7 days to change your mind before any of the ‘paperwork’ is started.  If you’re already in a contract with a supplier, you’ll need to cancel this. However, if you’ve never switched before, you’ll just need to agree your new contract with the new supplier or Third Party Intermediary. You can then sit back and relax, knowing you’re on a great water deal.

You can find out more about water and how rates are calculated here.