English small businesses are unprepared for water deregulation

English businesses are not preparing for the opportunities that the new water deregulation will offer, a new study finds.

Most businesses in England are unaware of and unprepared for the upcoming water deregulation in April 2017, according to new research from Utilitywise, an independent utility management consultancy.

The survey highlights a lack of knowledge about water deregulation with only one in four businesses feeling ‘informed’ about how upcoming water legislation will affect their business. Small businesses surveyed felt particularly uninformed about water deregulation – just 20 per cent of them felt ‘informed’ about the issue.

Just one in three English businesses believe their business has access to enough information on the impacts of deregulation. However, of those who are informed about water deregulation, over half (59 per cent) of English businesses say they are likely to switch compared to 49 per cent of unaware businesses.

Many English businesses are unaware of the potential benefits that deregulation could bring. Just four in ten English businesses think customer service will be better. Only half of businesses say value for money will be better.

Brendan Flattery, CEO of Utilitywise, says the results show worrying lack of awareness among SMEs and a lack of belief that market deregulation will deliver better value for money to their businesses.

Flattery adds, ‘From next year in England, all companies – small family businesses as well as large companies – will be able to benefit from deregulation by shopping around for the cheapest deal in a similar way to finding an energy provider.

‘We’re calling for greater education about water market deregulation to ensure that businesses of all sizes don’t miss out.’

According to Open Market, the website for the open water market, over 1.2 million eligible businesses and other non-household customers in England will be able to choose their water supplier from April 2017. Scottish businesses have benefitted from water deregulation since the Scottish water market was deregulated in 2008.

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