More than 200,000 businesses throughout the West Midlands are set to save substantial sums of money following a major shake-up of the water supply sector.
The region’s firms are among more than one million businesses in England who will be able to choose their water supplier for the first time after new legislation was passed to bring competition into its £2 billion market.
The Water Bill was granted Royal Assent in May to provide English non-household customers with choice over their supplier, with the aim of improving customer service and water efficiency.
In Scotland, the non-domestic water market opened to competition in April 2008, and since then customers have saved more than £36 million from their water bills by reducing the volume of water they use. More than £30 million of discounts have also been taken up by customers.
Mark Powles, chief executive of Business Stream, said the new legislation would force water companies to improve their services to customers or face losing market share.
The new market in England is scheduled to open to all customers in April 2017. At present only the very largest users of water – those with sites consuming more than five million of litres per year – can switch supplier.
Mr Powles said: “There is no doubt that customers will be able to save money. Giving them choice gives them the opportunity to negotiate better prices. We are still two and a half years away but we estimate that customers will be able to make significant savings.
“For too long now it has been a monopoly service and these reforms will give customers a choice of suppliers, and keener and better prices. The water industry was privatised 25 years ago and we have benefited from very good quality drinking water because of that.
“Water is a vibrant, competitive market – why spend money on water when you can spend money on your core business?”
Mr Powles said the market in Scotland could point to ‘plenty of notable success stories.’ “There’s every reason to expect customers in England will be able to use the choice they’ll have to drive the same kind of benefits.”