The water retail market was de-regulated in England on 1st April 2017.  The aims of the de-regulation expect to deliver a resilient water supply for the UK and lead to lower cost and improved efficiency in management of water resources in the longer term. The provisions include:

  • enabling all non-domestic customers to choose a water and sewerage supplier opening a competitive market;
  • enabling more companies to provide water and sewerage services to businesses in England;
  • a flood insurance scheme for domestic properties;
  • a duty for the regulator to focus on the long-term resilience of water supplies.

Previously, all water and sewerage undertakers have been required to provide both retail and upstream (wholesale) services to all the customers in their area. The retail reforms have allowed incumbent water and sewerage companies to exit from the retail market by ceasing to provide the customer service elements. By allowing greater competition, both innovation and efficiency is expected to be driven higher on the suppliers’ agenda.

De-regulation enables all non-domestic users, regardless of size, to switch their water and sewerage services to an alternative supplier and negotiate competitive contracts. These changes have been introduced in England following on from Scotland that deregulated in 2008; Wales is not included in the arrangement at this time.

Customers are now able to tender to the market, negotiate contracts and benefit from lower prices as a result.


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