Customers, Policy & regulation

Consumer research reveals appetite for domestic competition

Over half of UK consumers would like to see domestic water competition introduced, new research has revealed.

The finding comes from research conducted by Utility Week in partnership with Harris Interactive.

In a survey of over 1,000 UK adults, participants were asked a range of questions about their perceptions of utilities and whether certain changes in the market would be beneficial.

When asked if they would like to be able to pick their water provider in the same way that they can chose their energy supplier, 54 per cent said they would.

This was opposed to 22 per cent who said they would not welcome the choice and 24 per cent who were unsure.

The survey went on the ask respondents why they felt this way. Among those who had said they would welcome choice, there was a common feeling “being able to shop around” would allow them to reduce their costs.

Some also noted that they had seen a difference in the cost of water between regions when they moved house, but that they had no control over the change in charges.

Another respondent said: “At present, apart from limiting my usage I can have no control over the bills. If there was competition I could make a measured choice.”

The survey also asked consumers whether they thought they were charged a “fair” amount for their water and wastewater services.

Over a third (37 per cent) said that they felt the pricing of their water services was fair. An additional 36 per cent said that they did not think their bills are unfair, but that ideally, they would like them to be lower.

When asked if they would agree that they trust their water and wastewater provider/s, 56 per cent said that they do.

But despite this, 42 per cent of respondents also said they agreed with the idea that the water and energy industries should be renationalised.

Survey respondents came from all UK regions. The majority were homeowners (68 per cent).

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