PN 04/16 Licence application process opens


From this month, companies and individuals who are interested in providing retail water services to businesses in England, can apply for a licence to do so. Retail services cover activities such as billing, reading water meters and customer services and advice.

At present, businesses, based wholly in England and who use more than five mega litres of water per year – which means a water bill of about £9,000 per annum – can choose their water retailer.

However, from April 2017 the market will open to the remaining estimated 1.2 million businesses, charities and public sector organisations – enabling them to either stay with their existing supplier, or shop around to find a new one who could deliver more benefits and a better service.

Once open, the new market will be the largest retail water market in the world, delivering an estimated £200 million of overall benefits to customers and the UK economy.

Ahead of that, those interested in providing those retail services will need to hold a Water Supply Licence or a Water and Sewage Supply Licence. In the new market, it will also be possible for individual eligible customers, such as large supermarket and hotel chains or hospitals, to become their own retailer and self-supply with retail services. This would allow them to supply their own sites and those of persons associated with them, but would not allow them to become a retailer for any other sites.

Ofwat’s Chief Executive, Cathryn Ross, said:

“There’s a lot of work still to do as we develop the largest competitive water retail market in the world. But opening Ofwat’s application process for retailers to apply for licences is a really significant and exciting step towards creating a successful market.”

Those wishing to apply will need to have an understanding of the new market arrangements and identify the part or parts of England they wish to operate in. They must also be able to provide all information required in the online application form and pay a fee of £5,250.

Once the application process is complete, details of the application will be posted on Ofwat’s website as part of the required 20 working day public consultation and it’s expected that a detailed assessment of an application could take up to two months after that consultation period.

The application forms and guidance to help applicants can be found on Ofwat’s website,


Notes for Editors

  1. 1 mega litre is 1,000,000 litres.

Media contact: for more details, please contact Helen Robinson-Gordon on 0121 644 7617 or 07890 558742