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Citizens Advice response to Ofwat proposals for competition in water market

Citizens Advice has responded to proposals from Ofwat, the water regulator, to open up the energy market to competition between firms.

Currently, households have no choice in which water company supplies them. Under the proposals, firms could buy water in batches from existing providers and sell it on to households, potentially in bundles with energy and electricity.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Lessons need to be learnt from the energy market to make increased competition between water firms work for people paying the bills.

“Competition can be effective in driving down prices and improving customer service, but as we have seen in the energy sector, regulators need to pay it close attention to stop problems developing, from inaccurate bills to unclear prices.

"If companies decide to bundle water together with energy and gas, this could bring down prices - but it could also make it harder for people to get a better deal through switching, which would undermine the aim to cut costs for consumers. It needs to be clear how much each part of a bundled service costs, so that people can easily compare prices."

View report: http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/pap_tec20160919RRRfinal.pdf

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.

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