First quarter figures reveal response to retail water market launch in England and Wales

  • News


More than 36,000 water or wastewater service points changed provider in the first three months of the launch of non-household retail water competition in England and Wales, according to Market Operator Services Ltd, the company charged with operating the new retail market launched in April.

Since 1 April, businesses, as well as charities and public sector organisations, have been able to choose the retail organisation through which they obtain water and wastewater services. According to MOSL, it is the largest supply points which represents the group with the highest proportion making a switch. These supply points use more than five million litres of water a year. MOSL’s figures show that 4% of this group have switched so far.

The smallest water users are the most numerous to switch. 21,000 of the 36,000 supply points to have switched in the quarter use less than 1000 litres of water a day.

According to MOSL’s figures, new retailers who became able to enter the market after its launch at the start of April gained more than 15,000 supply points.

The largest users of water had been able to switch suppliers since 2005 but only a limited number of changes occurred. In general, the whole of England and Wales is covered by joint water and sewage utilities, with separate water-only utilities serving some smaller areas within these regions. According to MOSL, the first quarter figures indicate customers are showing a preference for having a single retailer for both their water and wastewater services. It says 95% of all switches either combine or keep both services with one retailer. It also says there have been around 35% more sewerage switches than water switches, mainly due to previously water-only retailers acquiring the sewerage service for the supply point in question.

Water retailers have been keen to highlight their successes. For example, Business Stream is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has been active in the Scottish market. It has announced that it has secured new customer contracts worth £100 million since the English market opened in April. Customers include retailer Debenhams, property and development company Places and People, and Southampton Airport.

To view the full article, log in here. New users can register here for free trial access, or subscribe here.


  • UK, Business Stream, Anglian Water Business, retail water services, competition