April 2017 saw the biggest change in the water sector for almost 30 years. That’s because the retail water market opened, allowing an estimated 1.2 million businesses, charities and public sector organisations the freedom to choose their water and waste water retailer.
What is market opening?
The creation of this new market allows businesses to switch from their current local water company (the “incumbent water company”) to another water supplier for retail (“account management”) activities.
The new competitive water market works in a similar way to other utility markets such as gas, electricity and telecoms in which you have the freedom to choose a retailer for services such as billing, customer service and meter reading. This doesn’t mean that the water you get from the tap or how your wastewater is taken away will be any different. It means you're now able to choose who provides your retail services.
In response to the changes in the water industry, Severn Trent and United Utilities joined forces to create a new water retail company, called Water Plus, specifically for non-household customers.
Non-household retail services provided by Severn Trent Connect migrated to Water Plus on 1 April 2017. Please either contact Water Plus or your retailer of choice if you have switched.
You have the ability to switch retailers at any time. For more information about the market changes and retailers, please visit open-water.org.uk.
What are the benefits?
Allowing business customers to choose between retailers will lead to more competitive pricing, improved customer service and the flexibility to negotiate better deals and rates with existing suppliers.
What is the difference between the wholesale and retail services?
Currently your services can fall into two parts:
- The wholesale service supplies clean water to you and takes away and treats wastewater from your premises.
- The retail service provides the customer facing activities that include billing, meter reading and customer service. From 1 April, Severn Trent Connect no longer provides a retail service to non-household/business customers.
When can I choose my retailer?
Very large business water users in England (those who use over 5Ml of water per annum) and all business customers in Scotland already had the option to choose their retail provider. For the remaining English business customers, the market opened on 1st April 2017. You can find out more information about retailers at the Open Water website.
Who is impacted by the market opening?
In general, any property that isn’t a domestic home, however, there are some scenarios where business premises are not eligible. If your business is eligible you will have been contacted before April 2017 to let you know.
Who do I contact about my bill?
Please speak to your retailer for billing and account related enquiries – their contact details will be on the latest communication to you or a recent copy of your bill.
Who do I contact in an emergency?
For emergencies relating to your wastewater services you can continue to contact Severn Trent Connect's 24/7 emergency line on 0345 450 9549.
Do these changes apply to domestic (household) customers?
The market changes in 2017 do not currently apply to household only customers. However Ofwat are currently assessing costs and benefits of extending retail competition to household customers in England and will make their recommendations to the government.