The government’s deregulation of English Water back in April 2017 – an attempt to open the floodgates to increased competition among water suppliers, should have been a game-changer for 1.2m businesses; but something seems to have gone wrong.

The market transformation which promised greater choice of water suppliers, improved customer service and bill savings for small and medium sized businesses had been a long time coming, especially with Scotland having benefitted from deregulated water since 2008!

However, stats reveal only a mere 50,000 switches, or just over that, had actually taken place in the first 5 months. To make matters worse, this also accounts for the 11,000 switches that occurred during the test phase, prior to the market opening. All in all it makes for a measly 3% of the market putting the legislation into practice!

It’s all the more baffling after acknowledging what Cathryn Ross, chief executive of industry regulator Ofwat said:

“There was tale after tale of frankly below par customer service and that was probably the biggest single driver for the reforms. There was this palpable need among business customers for better service and, frankly, more innovative thinking.”

Is there enough publicity on this new open market? Utilitywise’s new research showed just a quarter of businesses were in the know about the water market deregulation and its huge benefits.

Businesses also appear to be presented with complicated and non-standardised billing, making it very difficult to take advantage of any savings as they simply don’t have the time to speak separately with 20 different suppliers.

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