EY welcomes the draft Water Bill but says reform must make progress without undermining the confidence of financial investors

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Commenting on the draft Water Bill published today, Bill Easton, Utilities Director at EY, said: “Today's announcement marks an important milestone in the future development of the water industry. The Bill adds further substance to the proposals outlined in last year’s Water White Paper which set out some of the most important reforms in the last 20 years."

“The focus of the draft Bill appears to be primarily on the extension of retail competition to all business customers.  The draft makes it clear that there is a very substantial programme of work required for the reforms to be successful.  But we suspect that business customers, who have already benefited from retail competition in Scotland, will still wonder why they have to wait five years for  largely similar arrangements to be delivered in England and possibly Wales."

"It is vital that the new high-level group leading this work ensures that all parties are quickly aligned on the necessary roadmap and timeline, as well as making sure that the work does not take any longer than necessary."

"As the White Paper recognised, the process of reform must not undermine the willingness of financial investors to continue to finance the industry.  A measured process of reform can play an important role in mitigating such risks.  However, if the process is perceived to be moving too slowly, that itself can create uncertainty and risk.”