Changing water supplier in the UK

Rules and Regulations for Changing Water Supplier in the UK

How do you change water supplier? What are the rules and regulations related to changing drinking water supplier?

Until recently the business water market was severely restricted, and the average business was not allowed to change water suppliers. In April of 2017 the UK Government set up ‘Open Water’, the programme that deregulated the business water market in Scotland and England.
The ‘Open Water’ programme is led by three cooperating parties: Ofwat, Defra, and MOSL. Ofwat is the Water Service Regulator; Defra is the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; MOSL is Market Operator Services Limited.

Businesses can now choose which water supplier and wastewater service they would prefer, much like they would when buying energy. Wholesale water services will stay controlled by existing retailers. There are several rules and regulations that accompany this programme. You can find out more about who is eligible to switch their water supplier, and the process involved in changing your water supplier.

Who is eligible to switch their water supplier?

Non-household customers, such as businesses, charities, non-profit organisations, and public sector bodies are eligible to switch their water suppliers. A premises predominantly used for business and commercial reasons is allowed to switch. If someone works from home, then the premises is mainly used for domestic reasons, and does not qualify for switching water suppliers.

The foremost properties eligible to change water suppliers are:

  • Appointed company premises, which is any property with an office, such as hotels.
  • Allotments, which are not created as live in homes, such as individual allotments run by associations or societies.
  • Self-catering holiday units, which are not permanent places of residence.
  • Temporary supply for developers, which are properties that are still under construction or homes that are on show.
  • Youth hostels, which provide short-term housing.

These properties are assigned to businesses or for temporary accommodation as part of a business. Some properties can only change water suppliers after an assessment was conducted to determine eligibility. These properties are usually referred to as ‘mixed use’, depending on the commercial nature and use of the premises.

What is the process of changing your water supplier?

Once a business has been deemed eligible, there are four simple steps to follow in the process of changing its water supplier.

Step 1: Calculate Your Water Consumption

Calculate how much your current water use is. This information is given on your latest water bill, which also shows how much you are currently paying for water services per month. Your water bill provides information that you will need in later steps when changing your water supplier, such as:

  • Your yearly water consumption.
  • How much you are currently paying on your water bill.
  • Details of the charges on your water bill.
  • Your Service Supply Identification Numbers (SPIDs).
  • A recent water meter reading.

Step 2: Check Your Current Contract and Tariff

Check what your current contract states and what your current tariff is. Your water bill indicates how much you pay per cubic metre of water, as well as the charges detailed on your wastewater services. This will help you to decide if you want to change clean water suppliers, wastewater suppliers, or both.

Step 3: Pick A New Supplier

The first thing to do is to contact your old water supplier and see if they can offer you a better deal. If you are on a default or deemed tariff, the water supplier is obligated to inform you if they have better deals available. These deals will give you a good benchmark of tariffs that you can compare water rates to, and of what is available in the market.

Not all water suppliers are well known, and their availability depends on the region. Do thorough research on new water suppliers. Look at comparison sites, supplier websites, contact utility brokers and business support services. For a water and sewerage company to operate commercially and be legitimate they have to have an Ofwat licence.

Step 4: Agree on A Deal

Congratulations! You have found a water supplier that meets all of your requirements. Contact your prospective water supplier and give them your information. They will have to confirm the eligibility of your business. They will provide the necessary information about the tariff, terms, and conditions. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions regarding the new contract and tariff. If you are satisfied with all of the information and the tariff, you can confirm that you want to change to the new water supplier. You will then have to sign a letter of authority to secure the new contract.

You will be given a seven-day cooling off period to make absolutely sure that you want to change your water supplier. You do not need to give a reason if you decide to cancel the contract during this time. As soon as you have made the final change, you will receive a final bill from your old supplier, as well as start to get bills from your new water supplier.

What is the quality of the water from your water supplier?

Does the quality of the water differ between the water suppliers available to choose from? Yes, and no. Read more in our article about tap water in London and the rest of the UK.

If you are sourcing water for a hotel, restaurant or office space then finding the best water filter is probably more relevant. Our partner Blue Water Group in Sweden provides the best RO filters for businesses.

Conclusion about Changing Water Supplier

The rules and regulations for changing your water supplier are more like guidelines. Your business will have to be eligible to change water suppliers. Follow the easy steps above to change your water supplier, and keep the water flowing.

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