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Solace blog

12th October 2016

English water market opening – what does it mean for the public sector?

The countdown is on to April 2017 when all organisations in England will be able to choose their water supplier. Changes are already taking place within the market as providers gear up for competition, such as our acquisition of Southern Water’s non-domestic customers. However, it’s clear that for many organisations the potential benefits of the new environment are not yet high on their agenda.

The ability to switch is expected to drive a wide range of improvements within the non-domestic water market, including better customer service, efficiency savings, and environmental benefits.

In Scotland, where the market has been open to competition since 2008, our customers have saved more than £133 million. At the same time, they’ve saved more than 24 billion litres of water and 42,000 tonnes of carbon. Over the years, the savings for the public sector alone have amounted to around £36m – enough to pay for 1,400 new teachers, 1,500 extra police officers, 1,600 new nurses or 110,000 school meals.

Now, as competition approaches in the English market, all organisations can look forward to similar opportunities. However, there are some important steps that you should take to maximise the benefits, especially as the low margins set by Ofwat for England mean there will be limited opportunity for price discounts.

Shrewd organisations would do well to start thinking about this now and not wait until next year to assess the potential benefits available to them. One size doesn’t fit all – organisations should get expert advice to ensure a tailored solution that meets their specific needs.

We’ve developed a simple five-point plan to help you prepare and get the most out of the opportunities.

1. Assess your current water use: Study previous bills and note your spend and usage per site. This data is crucial for reviewing your water management options.

2. Look ahead: Planned changes such as opening a new site or facility upgrades could be important opportunities.

3. Review your trade effluent arrangements: If you produce food waste, run-off containing detergents or other trade effluents then we would recommend a thorough check to ensure you have the right consents and mitigation in place.

4. Speak to potential suppliers: Make sure you’re comparing their offering and customer service on a like-for-like basis,

5. Get advice: Even if you decide to stay with your current supplier, we can provide independent analysis and advice to guide you towards the best solution.

By James Cardwell-Moore, Commercial Director, Business Stream