The retail water market must open on time and must be fit and ready for multi-site customers to switch to a single supplier from day one.
These are two of the demands that feature in the Water Competition Manifesto published today by large utility consumer group the Major Energy Users’ Council (MEUC).
The MEUC surveyed its members – which include many of the biggest household names in the country – to gauge their views on the incoming water retail market. Based on the findings, it has compiled a Manifesto setting out what large customers want and don’t want – when the market opens.
Members unanimously want the ability to obtain competitive quotes for water and wastewater services and potentially to switch supplier. Three-quarters said it was important the market opened on time in April 2017.
Asked which potential features of the new market were most desirable, almost half – 46% – said enabling multi-site customers to switch to a single supplier from day one, was critical.
Karma Ockenden, chair of the MEUC’s Water Competition Action Group, said: “Large users, particularly multi-site businesses, are frustrated by the limitations and administrative complexity of existing charging and billing arrangements, which vary from company to company. There is a strong desire for simplification and rationalisation through a single supplier arrangement.”
Elsewhere, the Manifesto calls for rigorous assurance processes to give members confidence to participate in the market. A broad range of concerns about switching surfaced in the research. Top of the list was that something could “go wrong” and lead to supply or administrative problems for member companies. Nearly half said they could be deterred from seeking a better deal if their concerns materialised.
There was also a call for customers’ price and supply terms to be safeguarded in the event of incumbent retail exit after this emerged as members’ top consumer protection priority.
The MEUC, together with selected members and partners, presented the Water Competition Manifesto to water minister Dan Rogerson MP at a private meeting in Westminster last week. It will now circulate the manifesto to political groups and other interested parties.
Karma Ockenden added: “We have drawn up this Manifesto now, ahead of May’s general election, so that whichever party or parties form the next government have a very clear view of what large water customers want from the market and what will encourage them to participate in it. We do this in the hope that the market will be developed with business interests at its heart.”