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Committee not convinced over water competition in Wales

The UK government's plan to increase competition in the water supply sector in England is unlikely to work in Wales, a National Assembly for Wales committee has announced.

The committee believes competition will not bring increased benefits to customersThe committee believes competition will not bring increased benefits to customers

The Environment and Sustainability Committee held an inquiry into the potential implications of the Water Bill which, if passed, would allow non-household premises such as businesses, charities and other organisations, to choose their own water and sewerage supplier, similar to the way people can choose different gas and electricity utility companies.

The Bill is currently making its way through the House of Commons.

However, the committee was unconvinced that extending the legislation to Wales would result in the increased benefits for customers it is designed to encourage. Organisations told the committee they would only consider switching supplier if it resulted in a substantial saving in water costs.

The business model of Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, the largest water supplier in the principality, was highlighted as one reason why such a law would be ineffective. The company operates as a not-for-dividend company with funds invested back into its water supply network.

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, chair of the Environment and Sustainability Committee, said: “The cost of introducing the changes proposed in the UK government’s Water Bill are significant and, given the not-for-dividend model employed by Dwr Cymru, the committee is not convinced such changes would provide any increased benefits to customers or quality of service in Wales.

“The committee was also concerned that any potential discounts or savings offered to non-household customers could result in increased bills for households to make up the difference."

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