Water deregulation could lead to great savings for North East businesses

Businesses need to start planning now for the most radical changes in the water industry for a generation, according to a Seaham-based cost management firm.

Great Annual Savings Group (GAS), which predicts that businesses could shave thousands of pounds off their utility bills – if they prepare well for the changes in advance.

In April 2017, commercial customers in England will be able to choose the best supplier for their needs, regardless of where their premises are located. This is a radical move away from current practice, where companies get their water and sewerage services from a single provider located nearby.

Bradley Groves, chief executive and chairman of Great Annual Savings Group, said: “Deregulation will have a significant impact on the business community. Now is the perfect time for companies to start carrying out audits of their water consumption so that they’re in a position to take advantage of the best deals when they come available. Some companies mistakenly think that they need to wait until next April but by then some of the best deals will have been advertised and snapped up.”

This deregulation of the water industry is aimed at generating more competition in the marketplace in England. By allowing companies more freedom to choose which supplier they use, it could also lead to significant cost-savings across the business community – as it seems to have done in Scotland, which in 2008 became the first country in the world to have a deregulated water market.

Business Stream, the arm of Scottish Water that deals with business and public sector customers, claims that in the six years following deregulation it was able to cut £100m from customer bills. Open Water, a body set up by the UK government to deliver a competitive market, estimates that deregulation in England will deliver around £200m of benefits to business customers and the UK economy.

GAS, which helps businesses find ways of reducing their running costs, said the move would provide firms with the ideal opportunity to save significant amounts of money, although they needed to start preparing for the changes now.

Mr Groves said: “Deregulation of the water industry presents a fresh opportunity for companies to make significant savings when it comes to managing their utility costs. We’ve seen how it has worked effectively in Scotland and there’s no reason why it can’t work here.”

As well as generating cost-saving benefits, deregulation will make it easier for companies to deal with utility suppliers.

“In the post-deregulation era, companies that operate in multiple locations can use just one supplier rather than several,” said Mr Groves. “Also there’s more incentive for suppliers to provide a better service because they know that customers can switch supplier at the drop of a hat. Water companies will be compelled to make customer care a priority and provide best-fit solutions for all of their users. Failure to do so will inevitably result in lost customers and revenue to the competition.”

GAS specialises in negotiating the best possible tariff on water rates and a range of other variable running costs, including telecoms, energy management, office equipment, private healthcare and insurance. So far this year the company has helped firms make millions of pounds of collective savings on energy bills, where the market already works in a deregulated way – which gives some indication of the opportunity about to present itself in England’s deregulated water market.

In partnership with BQ magazine, Great Annual Savings Group is hosting a special event about the deregulation of the water industry in England on Thursday, 27th October at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham. Entitled “Water great way to save money: what businesses need to know about water industry deregulation”, the event will feature keynote speeches from senior experts in the water industry. Guests are invited to arrive at 8.30am for a 9.00am start. The event will last around an hour, with an additional 30 minutes of networking, and will finish at 10:30am.

For more information about the event, contact Adam Brown at GAS on 0191 500 5700.

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