Retail competition

Find out how the water retail market affects your business and what you need to do.

Woman in swimming pool

From 1 April 2017 all non-household customers have been able to choose who they buy their retail water and sewerage services from. This includes all businesses (large and small), schools, hospitals, charities, government and councils. This ability for customers to choose created more competition in the water industry, aiming to reduce prices, improve customer service and to improve water sustainability and resilience. To operate in this market, Yorkshire Water separated out its non-household retail function for business customers from its household and wholesale activities. The wholesale part of Yorkshire Water continues to provide wholesale water and waste water services to your business premises, with your retailer providing your customer services such as reading your meter, sending your bills and dealing with any questions or queries you may have.

On the 1 October 2019, Yorkshire Water exited from the retail part of the market and transferred the retail business customer accounts of Yorkshire Water Business Services to Scottish Water Business Stream.

For more information, including details of all licensed retailers and how to switch, go to the independent industry website Open Water or the website of our regulator Ofwat.

What does this mean to your business?

If you are a business customer and didn’t actively switch retailer, your account with Yorkshire Water Business Services will have been transferred to the retail licensee Scottish Water Business Stream on the 1 October 2019. If you chose at any time to switch to another retailer, their details will be on your bill.

Find your retailers website

How do I know if I am affected?

The changes only apply to non-household premises. If your premises are used for business and you pay or are exempt from business rates, you will be eligible to be part of the competitive water retail market. If your premises are for mixed use, but the primary use is for business purposes, or the household use of the premises depends on the non-household activity, your premises are very likely to be eligible to be in the market.

How do I switch retailer?

If you would like more information on how to switch or find out who are licensed retailers, you can find this on the Open Water website.

Who will actually provide my water and remove my waste water?

The wholesale part of Yorkshire Water will continue to be responsible for providing, operating and maintaining the physical water and waste water assets and services. These include the collection, treatment and distribution of water to your premises and the subsequent collection, treatment and disposal of waste water from them.

If you experience a potential public health issue (e.g. taste, odour or discolouration of your water, or sewer flooding) please continue to contact the wholesale part of Yorkshire Water directly on who will investigate and manage the problem. For any other matters please contact your retailer, whose number will be on your latest bill.

Useful links


The Water Services Regulation Authority, or Ofwat, is the body responsible for economic regulation of the privatised water and sewerage industry in England and Wales.

Ofwat is primarily responsible for setting limits on the prices charged for water and sewerage services, taking into account proposed capital investment schemes and expected operational efficiency gains.


MOSL is the market operator for the non-household water market in England. They support the Open Water programme by working with Defra and Ofwat on behalf of their members.

MOSL’s role is to deliver the operational capability needed to support the efficient operation of the new market.


Open Water is the programme set up by UK Government to open the water retail market for businesses, charities and public sector customers.

The Open Water programme is being led by three partner organisations, Ofwat, Defra and MOSL, working with existing water companies, as well as companies who wish to become a licensed retailer once the market opens.