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Although the UK Water Industry was privatised in the 1980's, full deregulation (like the electricity and gas industries) hasn't happened yet.
It is due to do so from April 2017, whereby it should be possible for companies with a reasonable requirement for water and sewerage services to shop around: up to now, it has only been possible to source these services from a local provider, other than in exceptional circumstances).
Clearly there is going to be a significant amount of change in the industry, but the anticipated increased competition should lead to better service and lower prices.
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What will the main changes be?
It should be possible for a company to buy their water services from a company outside their region, so a company in Lancashire might now be supplied by Thames Water, or Severn Trent Water.
What will happen to prices?
With increased competition, prices are likely to go down (although we cannot give an estimate as to what this might mean in practice yet).
Will it be the same big water companies?
In the short term, yes, this is most likely. However, there are likely to be some new entrants to the market (maybe small, maybe from abroad): there might be companies entering the sector from unrelated fields.
What will happen to service?
If the energy industry gives us any clues, new entrants to the market will be less reliant on legacy systems and will introducenew approaches, which will be about efficiency of cost and efficacy of service, so it will probably improve.
How easy will it be to switch suppliers?
We do not know yet, as the market hasn't yet formalized, but we are keeping an eye on developments.
What can I expect?