Too few businesses aware of water competition changes

With less than six months to go until the opening of the non-household water market in England, fewer than one in ten business customers may be aware they will soon be able to switch supplier.

That’s according to new research by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) which is challenging the water industry to ensure that the majority of the 1.2 million customers eligible to switch from April are aware of the changes.

CCWater’s Testing the Waters research reveals over 60 per cent of business customers support the idea of competition – but only eight per cent are aware the market is set to open from April 2017.1

Awareness is particularly low among smaller businesses and CCWater is concerned they could be left behind unless the industry steps up its efforts to inform its customers.

Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We do not want businesses to miss out on the potential benefits of competition because they were unaware of these changes.”

“The whole industry needs to work together to make sure customers understand how the market will operate and could affect their business. We’ll certainly be doing all we can to ensure this is the case.”

About two-fifths (38 per cent) of business customers say they are likely to switch retailer once they have a choice, with an average bill saving of 17 per cent needed to entice them into the market.

But three-quarters of customers said they would look to negotiate a better deal with their existing supplier when they were told this would be an option.

The survey also found that among business and other non-household customers:

  • Satisfaction with water services across England and Wales has increased to 92 per cent (88 per cent in 2014)
  • Satisfaction with sewerage services has fallen to 74 per cent (78 per cent in 2014).
  • Satisfaction with value for money of water services has fallen to 66 per cent (74 per cent in 2014). It has also fallen for sewerage services to 65 per cent (68 per cent in 2014).
  • Just under half of businesses (46 per cent) also believe they receive the advice and support that they need from their water company.

You can read the full report here (pdf)

For more information or to arrange an interview call the CCWater media team on 0121 345 1005.

1 The research involved 3,907 telephone interviews with business customers across England and Wales. Interviewing took place between December 2015 and May 2016.

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