Domestic water consumers could be given a choice of water supplier by 2020, the government has announced.

In a document published this morning, the Treasury outlined plans to boost competition in a number of sectors including water to get a better deal for consumers.

It said: “The government is driving water market competition. Business and other non-household customers will be able to switch suppliers from 2017. Ofwat will provide an assessment by summer 2016 of the costs and benefits of extending retail competition to household water customers. Following this, the government will work with water companies to begin the transition to household retail competition before the end of this Parliament.”

The document also looked forward to the introduction of upstream competition, saying: “Upstream water markets will be facilitated by the government’s planned modernisation of the way water abstraction is regulated to enable trading and competition, reduce water waste, cut red tape and help businesses to focus on investment and growth.”

This morning’s announcement will come as a surprise to the water industry, which has been focused on opening the market to competition for non-domestic customers in 2017, and was not expecting domestic competition to follow so swiftly.

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