Case for household competition still not watertight

The Consumer Council for Water has welcomed proposals by the Government to delay any decision over giving households in England a choice over their retail water supplier.

Defra has announced its intention to work with the regulator Ofwat on building further evidence for the Government to fully understand the case for extending retail competition to households. A decision will not be taken before the end of the current Parliament.

Non-household customers in England – including businesses, charities and public sector organisations – will be able to switch their water retailer from April 1, 2017.

Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Our view remains that more work needs to be done to ensure that competition does not disappoint households and disadvantage the most vulnerable.”

“We are still unconvinced by some of the more positive assumptions Ofwat has made about the benefits competition could deliver. Most household customers like the idea of choice but the bill reductions need to live up to their expectations.”

“Valuable lessons can now be learned from the non-household market, which we will be watching closely. The attitude and behaviour of small businesses in the new water market can help us to better understand whether choice can really deliver what households want.”

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