Water is open for business – and switching is easy

With the recent changes to the water market, which came in to effect on April 1 2017, most businesses and organisations in England can now choose which company they want to supply their retail water services.

Eligible businesses, charities and public sector customers are no longer restricted to buying retail water services from their regional water company. Instead, they are now free to choose their water retailer.

Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales, says switching to a new water retailer is easy for eligible businesses. Once the decision to switch has been made, the process should take no more than a month to complete.

There are five simple steps to switching:

Determine your water use – Check your latest water bill to find out exactly how much water you use, how much you pay for it and how you pay.

It will be useful to know your:

  • Annual water use
  • Current payment method
  • Current bills and charges information
  • Service supply point identification number or numbers (SPID)

Check your current deal – Knowing the terms of your current contract(s) will also help you get a better deal.

You can decide to switch your:

  • Water supply
  • Wastewater removal
  • Both water services

You may want to talk to your current water supplier to see if you can improve your current contract before shopping around. You can compare what they are offering with other deals on offer before deciding whether to switch.

If you are on a default tariff – also known as a deemed tariff – your retailer has an obligation to tell you about contracts which may be better for you.

Shop around – It is always good to look at what options are available to you, even if your water retailer is offering you a good deal already.

See all the licensed water retailers and wholesalers and find out what contracts and offers are available by:

  • Visiting the retailers’ websites
  • Checking comparison websites
  • Contacting utility/energy brokers and business support services for advice

Agree a deal – Speak to your chosen retailers to see what they can offer. You should talk to your current provider too as you may be able to negotiate a better deal.

Each retailer will:

  • Check and confirm your eligibility
  • Be able to give you any other information you need
  • Answer your questions about the contract

Make your choice – If you are eligible to switch and wish to do so, your chosen retailer(s) will be able to start the process.

While the request to switch is being processed, you have at least seven days to change your mind. This cooling off period is in line with the distance selling regulations.

You can choose to stop the switching process at any time. You do not have to give a reason to stop the switch.

When the switching process is complete, you will be informed and:

  • Your current retailer will issue your final bill for you to pay any remaining charges
  • Your next water bill will be issued by your new retailer for you to pay as agreed