Firms ‘can save from water utilities shake-up’

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Businesses in England are being urged to plan ahead so that they benefit from “the most radical changes in the water industry for a generation.”

Cost management firm Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) predicts that businesses could make significant savings on their utility bills, if they prepare well for the changes in advance.

In April 2017, commercial customers in England will be able to choose the best supplier for their needs, regardless of where their premises are located. This contrasts with current practice, where companies get their water and sewerage services from a single provider located nearby.

“Deregulation will have a significant impact on the business community,” said Bradley Groves, chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of GAS. “Now is the perfect time for companies to start carrying out audits of their water consumption so that they’re in a position to take advantage of the best deals when they come available.

“Some companies mistakenly think that they need to wait until next April but by then some of the best deals will have been advertised and snapped up.”

Deregulation of the water industry is aimed at generating more competition in the marketplace in England. GAS believes that by allowing companies more freedom to choose which supplier they use, it could also lead to significant cost-savings across the business community – as it appears to have done in Scotland, which in 2008 became the first country in the world to have a deregulated water market.

Business Stream, the arm of Scottish Water that deals with business and public sector customers, claims that in the six years following deregulation it was able to cut £100m (US$133m) from customer bills. Open Water, a body set up by the UK government to deliver a competitive market, estimates that deregulation in England will deliver around £200m of benefits to business customers and the UK economy.

As well as generating cost-saving benefits, deregulation will make it easier for companies to deal with utility suppliers.

“In the post-deregulation era, companies that operate in multiple locations can use just one supplier rather than several,” said Groves. “Also there’s more incentive for suppliers to provide a better service because they know that customers can switch supplier at the drop of a hat.

“Water companies will be compelled to make customer care a priority and provide best-fit solutions for all of their users. Failure to do so will inevitably result in lost customers and revenue to the competition.”

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