Becoming a self supply licensee

Eligible customers are able to choose to self-supply their own premises. Self-supply is where a customer buys water supply and wastewater services from the water company and provides their own retail services.

How does self-supply work?

If you want to self-supply your retail water services you will need a self-supply licence. As a self-supplier in the market you:

  • will receive your water and wastewater supplies from the water company in your geographical region
  • will not receive any retail services such as billing or customer service

Licensed self-suppliers provide retail services to their own premises. If you self-supply you are also able to:

  • receive water supply and wastewater removal services at the wholesale price from the water company
  • supply water services to multiple sites for your business
  • provide retail services to your business(es) or contract them to a third-party
  • provide retail services to eligible premises associated to your business(es)

You will also be able to contribute to the success of the market, help the water industry to innovate and shape it for the future.

What are the benefits of self-supply?

If you obtain a self-supply licence you will be able to buy your water and wastewater services at the wholesale price. This is a protected price that all retailers pay.

Your wholesale contract will be on the same terms as all other retailers to ensure a level-playing field in the open market. This means that you will:

  • pay the price that retailers pay to the water company
  • not pay the retail margin added by the retailers in the open water market
  • acquire certain rights, including membership of and voting rights in the running of the market operator

If you do not need retail services provided to you it could represent a significant cost saving.

What are the responsibilities of being a self-supplier?

As a self-supplier you will not be provided with retail services. You will be responsible for providing your own retail water services, such as:

  • reading your own meter or meters for your business premises
  • submitting your readings to the water company
  • talking to the water company when required

You will also need to:

  • pay the one-off licence fee of £5250 to register for self-supply
  • create emergency plans for water outages affecting your premises
  • manage wholesale billing from the water company
  • understand all relevant documentation about the open water retail market, including:
    • The Wholesale Retail Code (WRC). The WRC is a statutory code which governs the relationship and terms between the water companies and you as a self-supplier
    • The Market Arrangements Code (MAC). A non-statutory code the MAC is responsible for the organisation and governance of the open market and its codes

Three further codes will also ensure that customers of licence holders are protected in the open water market. As a self-supplier they should not affect you but it is important you understand them:

  • The Interim Supply Code, a statutory code which regulates the process in the event of a licence holder stopping supply to customers
  • The Retail Exit Code which will protect the customer in areas where the appointed water company does not take part in the retail market
  • The Customer Protection Code of Practice which will establish the obligations licence holders have to customers in the market

What can’t a self-supplier do?

If you are a self-supplier you can only supply your own sites and those of persons associated with your own sites.

You will not be able to supply retail services to third-party sites, such as supplying other business customers unrelated to your business.

How do I apply to be a self-supplier?

You can apply to be a self-supplier by completing the WSSL application form.

If you are considering making an application, please do get in touch. We can provide you with guidance on the application process and we can ensure we’re able to process your application as quickly as possible when it is submitted. If you would like to discuss a potential application with us or have any questions about your application, please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 0121 644 7500. You can also contact us in writing at:

Case Management Office
Ofwat
Centre City Tower
7 Hill Street
Birmingham
B5 4UA

Frequently asked questions

Fee for self-supply licensees

At the same time that an application is made, an applicant must pay an application fee (£5,250) to have its application assessed. The application fee is intended to cover the average cost incurred by Ofwat in processing each application.

As self-supply WSSL licensees will be effectively supplying themselves, we do not consider that they should pay a licence fee. Furthermore, we would not expect to monitor such licensees in the manner in which we would monitor other licensees, nor would we expect to process complaints on a similar scale to other licensees as they will essentially be both retailer and customer. View the WSSL fee decision document.

Codes

A new legal and regulatory framework is being put in place to facilitate the new business retail market, and provide the necessary market governance. This framework includes a number of codes which together set out the rules for the new market.

Read further details on the Market Arrangement Code (MAC) and Wholesale Retail Code (WRC) along with the final codes, consultation and consultation responses.

The MAC is a non-statutory code which is established by conditions in Water Supply and Sewerage Licences and Instruments of Appointment (MAC Condition). The MAC applies to all Licensees and Appointees in England and Wales as a consequence of the MAC Condition.

Retailers and wholesalers in the new market must comply with the Wholesale Retail Code (WRC). The WRC is a statutory code which sets out the rules (including business terms, operational terms and market terms) which are to apply between wholesalers and retailers. In line with the relevant statutory provisions, the WRC now contains the terms and conditions of a wholesale contract, thus giving contractual effect to the WRC.

Technical competencies

Our guidance document covers the technical information that the DWI, EA and NRW will assess as part of the application process (pages 24-27). The DWI, EA and NRW review applications to ensure that applicants for a WSSL have an overall understanding of water supply and water quality issues and the potential environmental impacts that can arise from their usage of supply systems so that licensees’ activities do not have a detrimental effect on an appointed company (the wholesale)’s supply system.

Financial stability

We consider whether the applicant has sufficient financial resources to finance its obligations under the law to deliver its business plan and whether it has the capacity to raise new funds in future. Appendix 1 of our application guidance document covers our specific requirements in terms of the content of the business plan and finance elements of the application. Pages 40-41 details the financial information we require from applicants.

Application process

The application process takes about 60 working days from the point of the application being confirmed. This includes a 20 working day consultation and a 40 working day assessment period conducted by Ofwat. The application process may exceed this timescale in some instances.

Wholesale charges

Wholesalers will hold information about the charges that would be payable should you be granted a self-supply licence.

The market operator

Information on MOSL (the market operator) and their application process is available on their website.