Competition expert to lead water review

An expert in economics and competition law has been appointed to lead an independent review of the UK water industry.

Professor Martin Cave, director of the Centre for Management Under Regulation at Warwick Business School, will head the review of competition and innovation which was announced last month in the Government's new Water Strategy for England.

The Oxford graduate served as a member of the Competition Commission from 1996 to 2002 and was on the Ofwat advisory board from 2002 to 2006.

Confirming the appointment in a speech to the Water UK City conference, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the review aimed to examine how competition could increase water efficiency and provide a better service for customers.

"The Water Strategy highlighted the need for action to ensure we have a sustainable water supply into the future, both for people and for the environment, and in particular in the face of pressures from climate change," he said.

"The review of competition has a vital role in this, through increasing efficiency of water use and delivering benefits to both business and household customers."

He confirmed that Government will take forward two recommendations from Ofwat alongside the review - ensuring that customers of new suppliers would continue to receive water if a supplier went into liquidation, and enabling all new suppliers to compete for national water supply contracts on an equal basis.

The Consumer Council for Water has welcomed the reviews announced as part of the Water Strategy after its recent research found that customers are becoming dissatisfied with and resentful towards the water industry.

National chair Dame Yve Buckland said: "It is encouraging that the strategy recognises that consumers should be at the heart of policy making in the water industry - but we need to see what this means in practice to bills."

The review is expected to begin this month and will take about a year to complete.

Kate Martin



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