Consumer Council for Water
Small businesses being left behind by water market
Small businesses have not been empowered to make the most of their freedom to switch water retailer, during the first two years of competition in England.
The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) says low awareness of the retail water market and a lack of information on switching options is continuing to prevent many businesses from shopping around for a better deal.
The latest wave of research published by the Water Watchdog shows only about 2 out of 5 small and medium-size businesses (SMEs) think they can switch their water provider1. It suggests awareness levels have remained static since CCWater began tracking customers’ views three months after the market opened.
Mike Keil, Head of Policy and Research at CCWater, yesterday said:
“Small businesses have not been empowered with the knowledge and tools they need to punish poor service and enjoy the potential benefits of switching or renegotiating.”
“Many SMEs feel they are being overlooked by retailers and unless that perception changes, customers will continue to miss out.”
Switching can potentially help businesses save water and money, as well as secure a better level of service. It could also provide an escape route for some of the thousands of customers who have complained to CCWater about their retailer during the past two years. The watchdog received just over 1,000 non-household complaints in the last three months of 2018 – almost 200 more than during the same period in 2017.
As well as having the right to switch, customers can also try to negotiate a better deal with their existing supplier. However, less than a third (29%) of SMEs are aware they can.
Signs are emerging that once small businesses are aware of the market they are increasingly motivated to explore their options. Over the past six months a growing number of these SMEs say they have taken steps towards switching, with 2 out of 5 dipping into the market. About half of ‘market aware’ smaller businesses have looked for more information.
Larger businesses remain more active in exploring their choices with medium-sized businesses (50-249 employees) around twice as likely as micro businesses (fewer than 10 employees) to have looked for market information, switched or negotiated a better deal.
CCWater is continuing to raise awareness of the market through its own communications and work with influential representative bodies – including the Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and National Farmers’ Union. But the watchdog believes retailers can improve the marketing of their services to smaller businesses, to help them understand how choice could potentially benefit them.
You can read the full survey results here:
- size: 1.33MB
Latest News from
Consumer Council for Water
STATEMENT: Water watchdog appalled by Southern Water failures25/06/2019 14:37:00
The Consumer Council for Water has responded to today’s announcement by regulator Ofwat that Southern Water will pay £126 million to its customers, following serious failures in how it operated its sewerage treatment sites and for deliberately misreporting its performance.
Light appointed new water watchdog Chair17/06/2019 12:20:00
Ensuring water consumers’ views shape the decisions of water companies, regulators and policy makers and building a more resilient water sector that reflects people’s growing concern for the environment will be among the most pressing priorities for the new chair of the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
New report echoes CCWater concerns on regulatory over-generosity31/05/2019 15:20:00
The Consumer Council for Water has responded to a new report by Citizens Advice which has found that regulators have allowed water, energy, broadband and telephone networks to overcharge customers by £24.1 billion over the past 15 years.
Businesses given chance to quiz water bosses29/05/2019 12:20:00
Businesses in the Midlands that are unhappy with their water or sewerage services can quiz industry bosses when the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) meets in Birmingham on Tuesday (4th June).
A blooming great garden without the need to splash out24/05/2019 14:20:00
The Chelsea flower show has certainly given us garden envy this week and we hope it has inspired you to think about getting out and about in the garden too. With an extra-long weekend for many of us just ahead thanks to the Bank Holiday, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about getting your garden summer ready.
Regulator may need to step in to tackle poor water market performers16/05/2019 15:20:00
Regulatory action may be needed to tackle the root causes of rising complaints from business customers about their water and sewerage services, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has warned.
Public meeting to hear about the future of water bills and services09/05/2019 09:20:00
The future of water bills for customers in the North East and other areas of Northern England will come under the spotlight when the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) meets in Durham on Monday, 13 May.
Water market hampered by falling satisfaction and low awareness26/04/2019 15:15:00
Falling satisfaction levels and a wave of billing complaints must not be allowed to dampen business customers’ enthusiasm to shop around for a better water deal, a new report has warned.