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the benefits of an open water market

From April 2017, eligible businesses and other non-household customers in England will be able to choose their supplier of water and wastewater retail services.

The benefits that up to 1.2 million eligible customers could see will depend on the individual requirements of each business. But, in a competitive market, customers will be able to negotiate with retailers for the best price and service package to suit their needs.

As well as greater choice, customers can expect to save money and save water through lower bills and increased water efficiency.

Tailored services and bundled packages could also see customers benefit from better deals for their business.

A competitive water market is also expected to deliver over £200m of benefit to the UK economy and bring significant environmental benefits too.


lower prices, better value for money

Businesses and other non-household customers could get savings on their current bill by:

  • negotiating a lower price with their chosen retailer
  • getting a better service that helps them cut their water and wastewater usage

Customers with similar needs could also join together to negotiate with retailers to get a better deal.

For example, after the Scottish water market opened in 2008, the Scottish Government negotiated a deal with a single retailer for Scotland’s schools, hospitals and other public buildings. It expects to save up to £40 million over the 4 year term of the contract.

better customer service

In the new market, retailers will compete with each other to win customers. One of the ways that they will try to do this is by offering higher standards of service.

Customers with more than one premises may be able to deal with only one supplier for their water and wastewater services, which could reduce paperwork and administration costs.

According to leading think tank Policy Exchange, one business customer who receives over 4,000 paper bills a year for their different sites could save £80,000 to £200,000 per year in administration costs if it:

  • moved to a single supplier for water and wastewater services
  • received a single electronic bill

Customers could also negotiate a deal on other related goods and services, such as energy or telecommunications.


more tailored services

Businesses and other non-household customers may benefit from more tailored services and bundled deals that better suit their business needs.

For example, five schools in Scotland were able to cut their water use by 44%. Their chosen retailer helped by:

  • benchmarking consumption in 50 schools against national standards
  • repairing leaks at five schools with excessively high usage
  • installing smart meters

This resulted in:

  • annual water consumption savings of 31,000 cubic metres
  • council savings of more than £56,000 a year in water and wastewater charges

greater water efficiency

Businesses and other non-household customers could choose retailers, or a price and service package that helps them to lower their water and wastewater usage, and be more environmentally-friendly.

In an open water market, many retailers will offer:

  • advice on water efficiency and waste reduction
  • better data on their water usage
  • smart metering
  • online support

For example, a water supplier in Scotland helped a caravan park reduce their consumption by 20% through installing rainwater harvesting.


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