PN 06/15 Ofwat welcomes Government review into retail competition for household water services

30 November 2015

Ofwat today welcomed the Government’s decision to look into the benefits of providing competition for retail water services to household customers in England. The Government has asked Ofwat to carry out the review, reporting back next summer. Once complete, it will then be for the Government to decide if and when it wants to give household customers a choice.

Retail services include customer facing activities, such as billing, account handling and customer queries, as well as water efficiency advice. They are different to wholesale services, which include the pipes and treatment works required to supply water and take wastewater away. 1.2 million non-household customers are already set to be able to choose their retail supplier from April 2017.

Cathryn Ross, Ofwat Chief Executive said:

“Customers’ priorities should be at the heart of water services. Well-functioning markets deliver benefits for customers, as well as wider society. Such a market in the water and wastewater sector could see customers become more engaged, push prices down, service up, and encourage more efficient use of an increasingly stretched resource.

“Opening up choice is a decision for Government. We welcome the opportunity to report on whether the benefits of choice could or should be extended to households. An in-depth review is needed to understand the full extent of these benefits, as well as identifying the barriers to getting a better deal for customers and making sure all customers’ interests are considered.

“We look forward to engaging with our stakeholders as we carry out the review.”

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Notes for Editors

  1. The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) is the economic regulator of water and sewerage companies in England and Wales. Its role is to help the sector build trust and confidence with customers, the environment and wider society. It exercises its powers in a way that it judges will protect the interests of consumers, promote value and safeguard future resilient water and sewerage services by allowing efficient companies to carry out their functions properly, and finance them.
  2. Ofwat has a duty to further the consumer objective to protect the interests of consumers, wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition.
  3. The Welsh Government has committed to not expanding competition for retail water services for either non-household or household customers
  4. Media enquiries to Ofwat Press Office on:
    Benedict Fisher 0121 644 7642 / benedict.fisher@ofwat.gsi.gov.uk
    James Sheward 0121 644 7644 / james.sheward@ofwat.gsi.gov.uk