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Energy


Stream have reported many improvements over the first five years following deregulation of the industry: n achieved more than £35 million in water efficiency savings


n experienced a 26% increase in customer satisfaction n made available more than £30m worth of discounts n saved public sector customers more than £20m in three years


n helped customers save 16 billion litres of water and more than 28,000 tonnes of CO2


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The opening of the English market provides similar opportunities and benefits, but for these to be realised, the water authorities of England will need to adopt a new culture where the customer is king and objectives are renewed to include new topics for acquisition and retention. These will be required if they are to entice prospective clients to move away from existing providers whilst delivering a great customer service, and clear communications if they are to maintain the retention levels of which they are currently accustomed to. Businesses will also have to play their part and give consideration to their current water costs, and in my experience this presents perhaps the greater opportunity for savings.


So where would be a good place for you to start? For the majority of consumers, a typical water bill includes charges for meters, clean water, waste water, and surface water and highway drainage (SWHD), providing a sufficient amount of information for invoices to be cleared for payment. However, there are many factors which contribute to each billing element and traditionally businesses have been overpaying for their water utility services due to complex pricing structures and the re-organisation of water companies. This sheds an altogether different light on the situation, as it is likely that there may be discrepancies between the services an organisation uses and the services for which the organisation is charged. The initial step before any action is taken should be to gain a complete understanding of how water is used within an organisation. Once identified, the organisation can track back to identify any duplicate charges or wrongly applied fees over the previous six year period. Savings can be made by checking allowances and abatements have been correctly applied and that water meter sizes/charges are correct for the type of consumption the business needs. Typically it is not uncommon for savings of 20%+ to be achieved. Often leaks can go unnoticed for years, adding to


your businesses water costs. Through detailed analysis and benchmarking, an organisation should be able to identify if there is a leak. Once addressed the business immediately benefits from reduced operating costs and there is the opportunity to submit a leakage allowance claim with the respective provider. Identifying possible areas for a retrospective claim is only the start of the process, as the phase of bringing


this information to the attention of the water service provider can be a challenge in itself. Successfully contesting your claim requires strength of character and a dogged determination as well as experience. Therefore it would be wise to implement a degree of caution and consider the options open to your organisation before simply “jumping ship” to a new water supplier or a new water contract with an existing provider before April 2017. This is particularly the case because from our past experience, once an organisation switches to a new provider or new contract, it can become increasingly more complex and more costly to recoup possible retrospective claims. Furthermore, as deregulation comes into effect, roles within the sector shift as water providers take their new B2B positions as wholesalers and licensees join the market, providing the customer facing element and the required competition. In this environment of change and squeezed economics, there’s a real possibility of potential retrospective claims becoming so drawn out, that in some cases, they could become uneconomical to pursue. For the customer, the opportunity for change is fast approaching and time is of the essence with little over 14 months remaining before deregulation. As with the energy sector, increased competition can only mean improved value for customers, greater choice and better prices, but unlike the energy industry, the water industry has been slower to adopt newer technologies, and water bills haven’t accurately detailed individual pricing factors. Once the market opens, businesses may be approached or actively seek better deals with lower prices, improved services and newer technologies. However, without industry experience and knowledge some businesses could inadvertently lose out from a substantial refund of money, covering a period of up to six years, whilst also reducing ongoing operational costs. If an organisation doesn’t have suitable resources to audit their water accounts, then all is not lost, they should consult an experienced water management agency which specialise in cost savings and retrospective claims. Most importantly, change is good and should be wholly embraced as has been evident within the energy sector and the Scottish water market.


Further information


Water Switch UK Limited is a B2B enterprise founded by the partnership of GET Solutions Limited and Water Management Solutions Limited in 2015. Providing a free-of-charge, no-obligation review of water charges, Water Switch awards businesses with the unique Water Health Check Certificate to prepare businesses for Switching in April 2017. The perfect blend of expertise from GET Solutions market leading energy and water data management systems along with Water Management Solutions 20 years’ experience within the water sector provides a simple but professional process for cost reduction, retrospective recovery and water switching services for businesses across the UK.


Carl Perry, Director, Water Switch UK Limited 4 Argosy Court, Scimitar Way, Coventry, CV3 4GA Tel. 0333 323 7701


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