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State of the market 2018-19: Review of the second year of the business retail water market

July 2019

Source: https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/regulated-companies/markets/business-retail- market/state-of-the-market-reviewing-the-second-year-of-the-business-retail-water- market/

Ofwat, the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales has published their second review of the business retail water market.

From April 2017, the date the market opened, around 1.2 million business customers in England have been able to choose their water services retailer.

Main Findings

  • 1.Only half (53%) of business customers are aware that they can change their water retailer
  • 2.Just 13% have been active since the market opened (April 2017)
  • 3.These customers switched or renegotiated or considered doing so
  • 4.And saved an estimated £10million in charges
  • 5.Since the market opened, written complaint levels have actually increased
  • 6.The majority of complaints concerned billing and charges, which in part reflect deficiencies in market data such as timely and accurate meter readings leading to inaccurate or disputed billing
  • 7.Which in turn impedes effective trading by wholesalers and retailers and undermines water efficiency measures
  • 8.Evident that wholesalers struggled to meet industry requirements resulting in increased retailer costs
  • 9. Ineffective interactions between wholesalers and retailers results in poorer customer experiences, reducing customer experience and confidence


On the basis of evidence set out in this report it is clear that significant and urgent action is required by the sector to resolve market frictions and so enable the delivery of improved outcomes for customers. We are starting to see some progress, but resolving market frictions will require all market participants to step up and work collaboratively.