Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT July 2016

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 13 of 39

14 | JULY 2016 | WWT | www.wwtonline.co.uk Industry leader Tony Smith, Chief Executive, CCWater "We don't want the market to disappoint the customer… if that happens, the customer view of the industry could decline." I t's less than a year before non-household retail competition is introduced in England in April 2017, but current moves from the government and regulator are already drawing attention to the next phase of reform – household retail competition for the domestic customer. Following the government's announcement last November that it wants to introduce competition for households by 2020, Ofwat is conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed move which is expected to be published shortly. So it was against this backdrop that the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) recently quizzed over 3,500 domestic water customers on their views of the reform for research entitled Floating the idea: Household customer views on water market reform in England. The findings were less than a ringing endorsement of the prospective market. Two- thirds (65%) of people initially said that they supported the idea of competition in the water market, but this fell to 51% once the wholesale- retail split and its implications were fully explained. Once they were presented with a likely figure for the amount they could save by switching (£4-8 off the annual bill per year) the proportion saying they would be interested in switching in such a market was much lower, at 32%. "The principle of having a choice is viewed as a positive by the majority of customers, but their view changes quite a lot when you start to put into scale the amount of money that customers could potentially save," CCWater chief executive Tony Smith tells WWT. "Primarily, it is the case that customers are looking for a reduction in their bill as a result of choice. We know from our research that the majority are satisfied with the service they receive from water and sewerage. So they are not really looking for a service benefit – they just want to know what competition will mean for their bill. And when we start to reveal the Interview by James Brockett

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