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SMEs Need More Help Understanding UK’s Open Water Market, Study Shows

Small businesses apparently want more help understanding and accessing the potential benefits of the retail water market in England before they take the plunge to switch their retail water services. It’s been a year since changes to the water market now allow businesses to purchase retail water services from the water retailer of their choice rather than from their regional water company, but most small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) don’t believe the open competition has anything to offer them, a new study suggests.

According to water watchdog Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), SMEs need to be convinced that they would save money by switching or renegotiating. So far, SMEs feel that water market retailers are showing a “lack of information and interest” and have not shared much information on the benefits of such a change, the new in-depth study found.

SMEs had expected to find a price comparison website to make it easier for them to shop around.

If retailers heed CCWater’s recommendations to improve the visibility of prices and service offerings, SMEs may soon find it easier to make a decision. Those SMEs that have already switched suppliers using a market broker said they found that the process went much more smoothly than they had expected.

Larger organizations that took part in the study were found to have a much better grasp of the market and the potential benefits. However, large organizations said their experience could be improved further once the market gets to grips with issues caused by poor data, inaccurate bills and disputes between wholesalers and retailers.

Ofwat, the water services regulator, suggests that by shopping around, businesses can find the best deal when it comes to “your bills and payments, reading your meter, customer service and water saving advice. By having the freedom to choose, your business could save water, spend less and get other benefits,” according to Ofwat’s website. Ofwat offers a chart of water retailers and wholesalers, along with information to help businesses uncover which retailer they are currently working with.



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