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Open Water – Commercial Water Offering First Update

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Update on preparations to introduce competition to the non-household customer retail water market in England from from Cathryn Ross, Chief Executive, Ofwat.

Welcome to the first in a series of regular updates about the Open Water programme and our progress with the work to open the competitive market for non-household water customers in April 2017.

I’m delighted to kick off by updating you about some of the progress and announcements that Ofwat has made on the subject in recent weeks and taking a brief look at the month ahead.

But first I’d like to acknowledge all of the hard work by everyone involved that is going in to making the process a success. We all know that introducing significant competition to a sector for the first time is an enormously complicated operational, logistical and governance challenge. But thanks to your huge efforts, work is well on track.

On the Ofwat side of the Open Water programme, we have recently launched two consultations. The first relates to changes Ofwat proposes to make to water companies’ licences, including the addition of condition that they are ready for the new market. The second relates to customer protection, following a workshop looking at the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) that we hosted in September. Separately we have concluded the consultation from June on licensing arrangements. Read our decisions and responses.

Finally, you may have seen media coverage that the UK Government has asked Ofwat to look at the costs and benefits for introducing water competition in the domestic market in England. This piece of work is underway, but I would like to emphasise that the work of the Open Water programme remains firmly on non-household competition, and will not be affected by Ofwat’s review.

Watch out for future updates from Sarah and Ben, but in the meantime see below for a recap of recent Open Water activities and some of the things to come over the next couple of months. As always, if you have feedback, on this newsletter or anything related to the programme, please do let us know.

I’d like to conclude by thanking Gabrielle Edwards, for her sterling work on many aspects of water reform including Open Water, and who has recently moved to a new Deputy Director role at Defra. We look forward to working with her replacement.

With best wishes from us all at Open Water,

Cathryn Ross
Chief Executive, Ofwat

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