In less than one year, the water retail industry will be deregulated for non-domestic customers across England and Wales providing businesses the opportunity to consolidate invoicing and seek out cost savings. Bringing the current regional monopolies to an end is expected to create price competition with suppliers competing for new customers. It is also expected that many water retailers will deliver new offerings, adding water-efficiency equipment and services into their business models.

As a result of deregulation, suppliers will have to perform in a competitive market which is already seeing moves toward service improvements. Suppliers are providing customers with access to value-added services in terms of consolidated multi-site and multi-meter monitoring, a reduced reliance on estimated charging and additional services such as high usage alerts and support with water saving initiatives.

Whilst all non-domestic customers can benefit from deregulation, the greatest benefits are likely to be achieved by multiple site, high water usage organisations, such as those operating in the areas of health, entertainment and leisure, manufacturing, education, retail and commercial property. These types of organisations typically have multiple bills from a range of water companies, each operating in different regions. Deregulation will allow centralisation of accounts; saving on time and cost of administration.

Charges on the water bill are divided between the wholesale and retail elements. Deregulation only applies to the retail charges with the wholesale charges remaining in place.  When the market was deregulated in Scotland in 2008, customers that chose to switch water supplier saw savings of up to 40% however suppliers in England have stated that current indications are that the savings will be as little as 5%.

A competitive market is also likely to nurture a new era of water efficiency in the same way that energy deregulation brought similar focus, with the spotlight not only on cost but on the ability to recognise and implement energy reduction programmes. The information that will be available to suppliers to price new contracts will allow customers to ensure that the information held accurately reflects the infrastructure at site and that this is correctly reflected in billing.  To maximise the benefits of switching businesses need to fully understand the water services at their sites and be interrogating water management systems to make processes more efficient and reduce waste. Progressive businesses are beginning to investigate their water supplies as they have previously done with gas and electricity. 

Streamlining and improving water services and processes represents a significant cost saving opportunity for many UK businesses and it is vital that companies are prepared. If you would like assistance with your preparation, please complete the contact form or email the compliance team at To discuss this further please call Melanie Kendall-Reid on 01252 87 87 22.

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