More customers can choose their water company

Over 1000 more large water customers, including hospitals, airports, universities, breweries and food manufacturers in England are now able to change their water and sewerage company.

The Office of Water Services (Ofwat) has lowered the threshold at which large water customers can request a change in their supplier, from 250 million litres of water a year to 100 million litres, opening up competition to more water and sewerage customers.

“Ofwat welcomes the lowering of the inset threshold,” said Beryl Brown, Ofwat’s Head of Competition Policy. “Opening up market competition means that customers can exert pressure on suppliers and if they fail to get a satisfactory response, they really can vote with their feet.”

In order to qualify for a change, an Ofwat spokesperson explained to edie, a customer must meet one of three criteria:

  • the customer uses, or is likely to use, at least 100 million litres of water per year;
  • the site for which the change is requested is not currently being served by a licensed supplier;
  • the existing licensed supplier agrees to the change.

Eight applications to change water supplier have already been granted, five of which are in favour of Anglian Water and Hartlepool Water, a subsidiary of Anglian Water. “From our point of view this is a major step forward,” an Anglian Water spokesman told edie. “It’s good to see that competition in the industry is going in the right direction.”

The National Assembly of Wales is also considering a similar reduction for customers whose water supplier is wholly or mainly in Wales.

OFWAT have published a booklet on inset appointments, which is available from: The Library, Office of Water Services, Centre City Tower, 7 Hill Street, Birmingham B5 4UA.

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