Many businesses are unaware that they can now switch their water supplier. Whilst many companies will this as another utility to try and stay on top of, it provides great opportunities to save money on business water bills.
With the deregulation of business water, there does need to be a regulatory body to help keep things fair. This is where they step in.
We've created this helpful guide to help you understand who they are, what they do and how they can help your business.
Who Are Ofwat?
Ofwat are the regulatory body for the water sector. They monitor and control the privatised water and sewage industry in England and Wales.
The Water Services Regulation Authority is an independent regulator that was first founded in 1988. They operate in a similar way to other regularly bodies you may have heard of, like Ofsted, Ofcom, and Ofgem. They are set up as a part of the government's strategic priorities to creating better value for around business utilities.
Ofwat is a non-ministerial department. This means that it is a department in its own right but does not have a minister that governs it.
Specifically, they are an economic regulator. It is responsible for monitoring prices, setting limits, protecting consumers, and emphasising the importance of investment in the water industry.
Ofwat also manages and enforces the licensing rules for water and sewage companies. These rules, along with a lot of other regulations in the industry, are outlined by the Water Industry Act of 1991.
What Do Ofwat Do?
It is important to remember that Ofwat is an economic regulator. It is not a quality or environmental regulator. Environmental and quality concerns should be directed to the Drinking Water Inspectorate, Environment Agency, English Nature, and the Countryside Council for Wales.
This regulator takes a comprehensive view of the water industry. It is not just interested in building trust with consumers, but also investors and stakeholders. Improving customer liaisons and fixing technical engineering issues all fall under the umbrella of support that Ofwat provides to the water industry.
Ofwat has a few main responsibilities.
- It must protect the rights of consumers in England and Wales. One of the ways it does this is by promoting effective competition.
- It must ensure that water suppliers comply with rules and regulations. Water and sewage companies that do not carry out statutory functions will be fined and, in some cases, disbanded.
- It must ensure that water and sewage companies have the means to finance statutory functions.
They also get involved in a few other projects that help it to accomplish the above duties. It ensures that companies eliminate discriminatory practices with regular price review, protects consumer interests when water companies sell land, and contributes to the sustainable development of industry structures.
How Can Ofwat Help Businesses?
Under the Water Industry Act of 1991, Ofwat has the power to determine the outcome of disputes within the water industry. This includes disputes between competitors and consumers and their suppliers.
They have set out a strict strategic policy statement to ensure that water companies are fair to their customers and help maintain a competitive water sector.
They encourage consumers to contact their water supplier to solve any disputes, but if they are unable to come to a reasonable agreement; Ofwat steps in to resolve the issue. In cases where the supplier has not had an opportunity to review and address the complaint, the Water Services Regulation Authority will not intervene.
Here are the most common disputes that the Water Services Regulation Authority can intervene in.
- Disputes concerning a consumer’s right to a refund or credit if their water supplier does not meet industry-wide standards.
- Disputes about water suppliers not meeting terms and conditions for business customers.
Read more about the complaints process to find out if you have a viable dispute.
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