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Most English businesses unaware of water market opening, finds survey

Most businesses in England are unaware of and unprepared for the forthcoming opening of the non-household retail water market in April 2017, according to a new survey by the management consultancy Utilitywise.

The survey highlighted a lack of knowledge about water deregulation with only one in four businesses feeling ‘informed’ about how the changes will affect their business. Small businesses surveyed felt particularly in the dark, with only 20% of them saying they felt informed about the issue. 

Just one in three English businesses believe their business has access to enough information on the impacts of water retail market opening. However, of those who are informed, over half (59%) of English businesses say they are likely to switch compared to 49% of unaware businesses.

Businesses are also not alive to the potential benefits that deregulation could bring: just four in ten English businesses think customer service will be better, and only half of businesses say value for money will be better. 

“The Utilitywise water survey results show that businesses across England are mostly unaware and unprepared for water deregulation in April 2017,” said Brendan Flattery, CEO of Utilitywise. “Worryingly, the survey shows a particular lack of awareness among SMEs and a lack of belief that market deregulation will deliver better value for money to their businesses.

“From next year in England, all companies – small family businesses as well as large companies – will be able to benefit from deregulation by shopping around for the cheapest deal in a similar way to finding an energy provider. 

“We’re calling for greater education about water market deregulation to ensure that businesses of all sizes don’t miss out. For our part, we’re launching a free helpline and website to help businesses become informed about the benefits that water deregulation will bring.

“Most importantly, the opening of the water market enables Utilitywise to offer our customers a full energy and water utility management plan which can deliver lower bills, better value for money, improved customer service as well as water and energy savings”.

According to Open Market, the website for the open water market, over 1.2 million eligible businesses and other non-household customers in England will be able to choose their water supplier from April 2017.  Scottish businesses have benefitted from water deregulation since the Scottish water market opened in 2008.

Author: James Brockett,
Topic: Policy & Regulation
Tags: business , water , retail competition

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