In broad terms, those eligible to switch in the business retail market are:
- business customers supplied by an appointed company whose area is wholly or mainly in England; and
- business customers supplied by an appointed company whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales AND using a minimum of 50 mega litres of water a year.
For simplicity we refer to eligible customers. But it is actually individual premises that are eligible. Generally, premises are eligible where the primary use is for non-domestic purposes.
You can check your eligibility on the Open Water website.
How we determine disputes on whether customers are eligible to be supplied by a retailer in the business retail water market
Our eligibility guidance sets out whether businesses, charities and public sector organisations are eligible to switch their retailer. There is also supplementary guidance which provides specific examples of how the eligibility guidance might be applied.
If you are unsure about whether you can switch to a different retailer you should read these two guidance documents and speak to your current retailer or contact the Consumer Council for Water. The guidance documents cover the process you will need to follow if you are unsure about your eligibility status.
When can disputes be referred to us?
If you have read the eligibility guidance and the supplementary guidance and you are still unable to resolve your issue with the relevant retailer, you can submit a query or dispute to Ofwat.
Who can refer disputes to us?
If a retailer or a potential customer of a retailer has a query or disagreement about whether the eligibility requirements are satisfied in respect of a proposed supply arrangement, they can refer the matter to us to consider and, if necessary, determine. The Water Industry Act 1991 does not provide for undertakers to refer disagreements to us, as it is the retailer who is responsible for ensuring that it supplies only eligible premises.
What information do you need to provide?
If you submit a dispute to us, you will need to provide the following information:
- Name and address of person or organisation (Complainant) referring the dispute;
- Where the Complainant acts through an agent (for example a consultant or solicitor), the agent must provide full details of the relationship between themselves and the Complainant, and provide a signed letter of authority from the Complainant.
Details to help us consider eligibility (some or all of the following may be required)
- Copies of correspondence between parties to show that they have discussed eligibility issues but have not been able to reach an agreement;
- information about how the premises are managed and who is liable for the water bills;
- whether the premises are liable for business tax or council tax rates (or both);
- whether the premises have a registered VAT number;
- a map of the site and the surrounding area, including the nearest roads and any land between the premises;
- a copy of the relevant entry from the Land Register or a copy of the property deeds;
- the water metering arrangements at the property;
- how much potable and non-potable water is supplied to the premises each year and details of the charges payable for that water;
- whether any supplies of water are provided through private networks;
- whether any water supplied is lost through leakage; and
- the usage to which the properties are put and whether that usage is household or non-household.
How to refer a query or dispute to us
If you have a query or wish to refer a dispute to us for determination you should submit your query or complaint by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a hard copy to:
Case Management Office
Centre City Tower
7 Hill Street
How long will it take us to deal with your query or determine your dispute?
For information on our process and the time it takes us to deal with queries and determine disputes, please refer to our timeframe for handling complaints.