Whether you’re interested in finding out ways to save your business money or simply have a question for us, at Affinity for Business, we are always happy to hear from you. All our contact details can be found on the right – or, if you prefer, fill in our easy-to-complete form at the bottom of the page. Our friendly and knowledgeable team are on hand to help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is happening to the water market in England?
From April 2017, non-household customers such as SMEs, larger businesses, charities and public sector organisations in England will be able to choose their water and sewerage provider from a number of retailers. Different retailers will operate in different parts of the country and some will be national.
Retailers will provide services such as billing, meter reading, customer service and water efficiency advice regardless of geographic location. The national programme to prepare for this change is known as Open Water.
What is Open Water?
The national Open Water programme is managed by DEFRA, Ofwat and a new company called Market Operator Services Ltd (MOSL). MOSL is responsible for the nationwide technology system that will enable customers to switch between retailers once the market is open. These organisations are working with water companies and potential new retailers across England to ensure the water industry is ready to work in a new way from April 2017.
Why is this being introduced?
The Government believes that introducing competition in water and waste water retailing will benefit non-household customers by:
- Improving service levels
- Increasing the flexibility of services
- Delivering better value for money
- Enabling customers to choose a retailer that best meets their needs
The Water Act 2014 paved the way by enabling the creation of a new competitive retail market for water and sewerage services to eligible business customers i.e. businesses, charities and public sector organisations.
How will competition work?
Once it opens in April 2017 the new retail market for water and waste water will work like many other utility markets such as telecoms, electricity and gas.
The existing water companies, including Affinity Water, will become wholesalers who supply water and waste water removal to retailers. Retailers, such as Affinity for Business will compete with each other for water and/or sewerage customers (depending on the retail licence they hold) and will package up the physical supply of water and the removal of waste water with a range of other retail services.
Retailers will pay the wholesalers for the water their non-household customers use and the waste water they put back into the sewer and drainage networks. Retailers will bill their customers for the water and/or waste water plus any additional value-added services they provide.
Non-household customers will be able to change their retailer at any time, if an alternative provider offers a better prices or improved service, for example.
When will I be able to choose my retail supplier?
The new retail market for eligible businesses is scheduled to open in April 2017. The precise date will be decided by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Until then non-household customers will continue to be supplied by their local water company and receive bills in the usual way, although some companies may introduce new retail ‘brands’ as part of the preparation for the new market going ‘live’.
Companies across England are busy testing the new systems and processes they will need, but this will not affect the services their customers receive.
How will Affinity Water be taking part in the new market?
It will be operating as both a wholesaler and a retailer, with retail services to business customers provided through Affinity for Business.
Today, Affinity Water is a ‘Water only Company’ which means it is responsible for the abstraction, treatment, distribution, billing and customer service of water only to domestic and business customers. It is not responsible for the sewerage networks or sewage treatment in its area; these services are provided by Thames Water, Anglian Water or Southern Water, depending on location.
As a wholesaler it will continue to be responsible for the abstraction, treatment and distribution of water but it will only provide customer service and billing to its domestic customers.
Business customers will be served by a separate retail business called Affinity for Business which will be one of the new retailers operating in the new market. When the market opens, customers will be able to choose whether to stay with Affinity for Business or to transfer their retail relationship for clean water to an alternative supplier.
Affinity Water has launched the Affinity for Business brand in autumn 2016 as part of its preparation for the new market to help business customers become familiar with the name. From market opening the Affinity for Business and Affinity Water wholesale teams will be completely separate from each other. Communication between them will be governed by the legal framework that defines how the new market works.
What services will Affinity for Business be able to provide to my company?
We are committed to providing a high quality retail services for clean water to business customers in the Affinity Water area of supply. Our teams have extensive experience in managing and optimising water resources and infrastructure and have a range of additional services to help your business improve efficiency, protect your water system and save water, energy and money. Other retail services we plan to provide include:
- Automatic Meter Reading (AMR)
- Water quality assurance
- Water audits
- Maintaining water assets
- Leak detection and repair
- Rainwater and grey water harvesting
- Site mapping
We are working on plans to further develop the services we are able to provide once the market opens in April 2017.
I run my business from home – who will provide my retail services?
If you run your business from home you are classed as a household customer and will not be eligible to participate in the new market or choose your retailer.
Will my bill go up due to this change?
Different retailers will offer different combinations of services and price points to reflect the needs of different types of business. Charges could change depending on the mix of services and add-ons your business purchases.
What is the difference between retail and wholesale in the water industry?
Wholesale includes activities such as the abstraction, treatment and distribution of water and the collection, transport and treatment of waste water. Wholesalers will not interact directly with a retailer’s customers except in emergencies. Retailers become the wholesaler’s customers.
Retailers will hold the relationship with the business customer and will undertake billing, meter reading and cash collection as well as providing customer services and other value-added services such as water efficiency advice and some technical services.
How can my business benefit?
Businesses will be able to choose their provider of water and sewerage services regardless of where they are in the country. They will no longer be ‘tied’ to the local water company but will be able to shop around for the best mix of price and service.
Who will provide my sewerage retail services?
Previously Affinity Water had been sending sewerage bills on behalf of Thames Water, and Anglian Water for customers in its area of supply. In September 2016 this was brought to an end with the final phase of the handover of responsibility to Thames Water and Anglian Water having been completed.
Preparation for the new market means we have handed responsibility for billing sewerage back to Thames Water and Anglian Water since we are required to operate as a ‘water only’ company.
When the new market opens, business customers will have two retail relationships: one for water and one for sewerage. They will have the choice of retaining this, or transferring their retail relationship to a single retailer that offers both water and sewerage.
When can I switch?
Businesses will be able to switch to a retailer of their choice from April 2017, or other date determined by the Secretary of State.
Who do I contact in an emergency?
If there is a sudden and unplanned change affecting to your water supply, such as a burst, a leak or no water, you should contact Affinity Water, your water wholesaler, straight away. They are available for emergencies at all times. To check if this has already been reported please see – www.affinitywater.co.uk/wholesale-current-alerts.aspx
If there is an ongoing problem, such as low pressure, or problems affecting pipework on your property, your retailers are there to help. They can take the details and contact your wholesaler, if necessary.
My water supply looks/smells different, who looks after this?
If the appearance or taste of your water is causing concern, Affinity Water, your water wholesaler, needs to know straight away. Call the emergency number shown on the right.
I want to discuss my account or water supply, who do I call?
Your retailer will be happy to help with your account, with problems with pipework on your property and any ongoing questions or problems with your supply. You can call Monday to Friday 8:00 to 17:00.
Get in touch
We’d love to help you increase efficiency, save water, save money and streamline your operation. If you’d like to know more about all the ways in which we can help, or you have a specific request or enquiry, please fill in the form below.