More choice and lower water bills for businesses

Published on Monday, 31 October 2011 11:51
Posted by Matthew Abbott

More businesses across England will be able to choose their water supplier in search of a better deal under changes to be introduced shortly by the Environment Minister, Richard Benyon.

Currently only businesses who use more than fifty megalitres of water a year, which is equal to 20 Olympic sized swimming pools, can switch from their existing water supplier to a new one.

Government proposals to slash this threshold to just five megalitres of water, equivalent to two Olympic sized swimming pools, will substantially increase those able to switch supply, from just 2,200 to 26,000 businesses.

The change, which is subject to Parliamentary approval, is an amendment to the Water Industry Act 1991. It is hoped the change will be enacted by the end of the year.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:

“This change will allow a huge number of extra businesses to search out better water deals by switching supplier if their current supply does not work for them.

“It also highlights the Government’s firm commitment to help businesses and stimulate the economy.”

Regina Finn, Ofwat’s Chief Executive said:

“Ofwat welcomes the proposed lowering of the threshold, which will bring real benefits to an extra 24,000 business customers. This recommendation was made by Martin Cave in his review on competition in the sector.

“It is a step in the right direction and good news for qualifying businesses who will welcome greater choice during difficult economic times.”

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair, the Consumer Council for Water said:

“This will be good news for many business customers, who are currently frustrated by the lack of progress of competition in water.

“The important thing now is to get the system working for those customers who can now switch and will need to have the confidence that they can easily and seamlessly change supplier.

“We know that many business customers want to be able to choose their water supplier and have high expectations for competition in the sector.”

Potential benefits associated with lowering of the threshold could take the form of lower bills, reduced consumption as a result of increased water efficiency measures and there could be benefits to the environment through reduced water consumption and CO2 emissions.

Source: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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