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Water Companies: Competition

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL15553, tabled on 7 May 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions there have been between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the need to ensure that small business customers benefit from the non-household retail water market in England.

Answered on

21 May 2019

Ofwat are the economic regulator for the water industry, and it regulates and monitors the operation of the retail business market. Ofwat published their first annual report on the market, Open for Business, in July 2018. It identified that small and medium sized business customers are not yet experiencing the same benefits that larger customers receive from the retail market, and raised a number of issues that could be affecting this.

Ofwat and Mosl, the market operator, have been taking a number of actions to investigate further and address these issues, including for SMEs.

Ofwat is currently undertaking a further assessment of the market with a view to publishing their second annual report in July.

My Department has ongoing discussions with Ofwat and Mosl about these issues and will discuss the outcomes of the second annual report with Ofwat in due course.

Minister Coffey, the Minister responsible for this policy area, requested that the then Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Margot James MP, use her channels to advertise and promote to small business customers that they can benefit from the non-household retail water market in England.