Do you want to be able to choose your water company?

edited 4 August 2016 at 10:12AM in Water Bills
123 replies 30.6K views
OfwatOfwat Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
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edited 4 August 2016 at 10:12AM in Water Bills
At the moment the water sector is a monopoly – who we get our water from is decided by where we live, not who we choose.

The government is thinking about changing that and introducing choice and competition in England and is asking Ofwat, the water regulator, to look at the costs and benefits of doing so.

At Ofwat, we think giving customers the freedom to choose could make life a bit easier, as different bills like gas and electricity or broadband could be bundled together with water, it could spark new offers from companies and more use of technology (at the moment only a couple of water companies let you manage your account on an app). We also think there could be some modest savings, too – of up to £6 a year.

But we want to know what you think.
  • Do you want the freedom to choose?
  • Do you think competition in the water sector would be a positive change? And why?
  • Would you be interested in switching supplier and what would make choose to do so?
  • Do you think it would lead to you getting a better deal?

Let us know what you think as we are working on this now and will present our findings – and your views – to the Government in the Autumn.
Official Company Representative
I am the official company representative of Ofwat. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
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Replies

  • badmemorybadmemory Forumite
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    I can only think of a few reasons which would make this a good idea.

    Is this going to cut down the amount of profit the water cos can make?

    Is this going to make them increase the speed at which they are currently fixing leaks?

    Is it going to be possible to ring up and say in 21 days I want to change my supplier to whoever, on that 21st day the change is made, 7 days later you get your final bill and 7 days after that your refund of any overpayment is in your bank? Or is it going to be the same shambles that energy is?

    Is it going to be the usual case of the most vulnerable paying the most?

    Unless the answers are going to be, yes, yes, yes & no and no in that order then please forget about it!
  • deanosdeanos Forumite
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    We also think there could be some modest savings, too – of up to £6 a year.

    is that a typo ?

    hardly worth it for that amount
  • Our water bill trebled just because we moved to a different part of the country that insists on having sewerage suppliers for water and sewage. In principle, I'd like to be able to choose providers since I believe it will improve prices via competition.
  • footyguyfootyguy Forumite
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    deanos wrote: »
    is that a typo ?

    hardly worth it for that amount

    Not a typo. A change of water supplier, at least initially, would simply be a change of who bills you and answers the phone if you have a query.

    That is a very small fraction of the everall bill, and whoever you choose is still going to cost them something to deliver that, so any saving is only going to be a fraction of a fraction of the bill.

    In comparsion, gas & electric suppliers can also go out and buy their fuel wherever they want, at whatever price they can negotiate. Water, on the otherhand, will still be delivered by the same water supplier as today, even if you change your supplier. The new supplier only does billing & customer service functions.

    (It's hoped a later development may allow suppliers to source the water from others, so allowing a greater saving ... but not initially. I guess if step 1 doesn't succeed, then step 2 will never happen)
  • OfwatOfwat Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    13 Posts
    Hi badmemory


    I think you raise some really important points about leaks, ease of switching and protecting the vulnerable. All of these need to be considered in how a market would be introduced and regulated.


    You would hope that retailers might actually put a focus on tackling leaks as it is in no-one's interest to waste water - including theirs. If they could tackle leaks, and so reduce usage, they might even be able to offer lower bills - making them attractive to customers.


    It is really important that it would be easy to engage and understand the market and to switch. And we'd need to make sure there are measures in place to protect the vulnerable, too


    thanks for your thoughts
    Official Company Representative
    I am the official company representative of Ofwat. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
  • OfwatOfwat Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    13 Posts
    kenville wrote: »
    Our water bill trebled just because we moved to a different part of the country that insists on having sewerage suppliers for water and sewage. In principle, I'd like to be able to choose providers since I believe it will improve prices via competition.
    thanks for your thoughts, Kenville


    That's helpful
    Official Company Representative
    I am the official company representative of Ofwat. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
  • OfwatOfwat Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    13 Posts
    footyguy wrote: »
    Not a typo. A change of water supplier, at least initially, would simply be a change of who bills you and answers the phone if you have a query.

    That is a very small fraction of the everall bill, and whoever you choose is still going to cost them something to deliver that, so any saving is only going to be a fraction of a fraction of the bill.

    In comparsion, gas & electric suppliers can also go out and buy their fuel wherever they want, at whatever price they can negotiate. Water, on the otherhand, will still be delivered by the same water supplier as today, even if you change your supplier. The new supplier only does billing & customer service functions.

    (It's hoped a later development may allow suppliers to source the water from others, so allowing a greater saving ... but not initially. I guess if step 1 doesn't succeed, then step 2 will never happen)


    thanks Deanos and footyguy


    Footguy is right in saying this would only be competition for the retail part of our bill. the pipes, infrastructure, reservoirs etc are not being considered for competition.


    Deanos - would you be tempted to switch for a better service, new offers or bundled services with, say broadband, even if there was no price saving?
    Official Company Representative
    I am the official company representative of Ofwat. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to [email protected] This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE"
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    Wouldn't the powers Ofwat have been granted be better utilised in sorting out the many anomalies in billing in the various companies. e.g.

    Standing charges. These vary tremendously between companies.

    Surface Water Drainage - again a complete nonsense; originally supposed to be sorted within 10 years of the introduction of The Water Act
  • Nick_CNick_C Forumite
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    To save £6 a year? What's the point. Sounds like a lot of money would be wasted on admin and marketing for no significant benefit to the consumer.

    Of course we shouldn't be starting from here. A service that cannot be opened up to competition should never have been privatised. But we are where we are.
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    If we could switch between various companies(to save up to £6) wouldn't this mean that all 20+ companies would have to have a data base of all the differing charges for metered water and sewerage, RV based charges, standing charges for water and sewerage, Surface Water drainage,

    How would this be more efficient?
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