Ofwat consults on further measures to protect business retail customers

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OFWAT has launched a consultation on a further package of measures aimed at protecting business retail customers and minimising disruption in the market as the coronavirus emergency continues.

The UK economy has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and the Government is making unprecedented levels of financial support available to businesses.

Ofwat has already worked closely with the market operator MOSL to put urgent retail code modifications in place at the end of March.

The changes were intended to ensure businesses affected by COVID-19 are not being pursued for non-payment of water bills, to minimise the disruption that retailer failure could cause to business customers and the trading parties who are operating within it.

The modifications included:

  • restricting retailers from charging interest or late payment fees for late payments or requesting that customers be disconnected at this time;
  • deferring payment of a proportion of wholesale charges to reflect late payment by non-household customers; and,
  • use of a temporary vacant flag in the market database to reflect that a closed business is not consuming water.

The water regulator states it wants to protect customers in these unprecedented times and ensure that the delivery of water and sewage services is as smooth as possible during the current crisis.

As a result the consultation looks at what further steps may be necessary to protect non household customers from the impacts of Covid-19.

Ofwat seeks stakeholder views on the questions detailed in Appendix 1 of the attached document by 5pm on Tuesday 21 April 2020.

Email responses should be submitted to [email protected], with the subject ‘Liquidity and bad debt consultation’.

The consultation document is available here