Less than 1% of businesses have switched their water supplier since the market was deregulated on April 1, according to consultancy Utilitywise.
Market Operator Services Limited (MOSL) has released switching figures for the first quarter of 2017/18 showing that 36,301 supply points have switched water retailer since the business market opened – just 1.4% of the 2.6 million supply points that make up the market.
However, 20,998 of these switches relate to sewerage points, and 15,303 have been water point switches. As small businesses often have two meter points, analysis from Utilitywise suggests that the number of businesses who have switched water supplier since 1st April is less than 1%.
Utilitywise has called on environment secretary Michael Gove to release the figure for the number of businesses who have switched water supplier since deregulation, as a true measure of its success.
Last month, CEO of Utilitywise, Brendan Flattery, wrote to Michael Gove to outline the consultancy’s three-point plan to make the water market open, honest and competitive.
Utilitywise has said that the disappointing figures for switching further strengthen the case for Ofwat to be given the authority by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to hold water suppliers to account.
Brendan Flattery, CEO of Utilitywise said: “The water market deregulated on 1st April, but we have learnt today that less than 1% of businesses have switched water supplier, showing that the water market is still not truly open. The regulator, Ofwat, has not been given the authority to enforce policies which would result in better deals for customers.
“We’ve all been taken for an ‘April Fool’ with the promise of a competitive and open water market, and that’s why we’re calling on Michael Gove to take action.”
Michael Gove was appointed Secretary of State for DEFRA in June, and now has responsibility for Ofwat, the regulator for the country’s water services.
Flattery continued: “Our three-point plan will make the water market truly open, honest and competitive, unlocking £200m worth of collective savings for businesses across England.
“Our proposals aren’t rocket science or costly, but simple measures such as publishing standardised pricing models so that businesses can compare different water contracts and find the best deal for them. Currently, businesses have to individually contact more than 20 water suppliers – an arduous task for business owners trying to reduce their bills.
“Michael Gove must empower Ofwat with the strength and authority to fight for small businesses, while releasing the figure for the number of businesses who have switched water supplier in the first quarter.”