An evolving market
It is now more than 13 years since the market for non-household water and sewerage services was established. During that time customers have enjoyed a range of benefits, including lower water usage, lower prices and more tailored services. Markets evolve however and, to be properly effective, the way in which they are regulated must evolve too.
To ensure that the market continues to operate in the best way for customers we are introducing a ‘market health check’ process. The objective is to support retailers with ways to improve customer outcomes and promote the effectiveness of the market.
In essence, we are looking to retailers to demonstrate that they are acting in the best interests of their customers by showing that they are committed to open and candid behaviour. The high standards of conduct and good behaviours might involve, for example:
- treating customers fairly and responsibly;
- upholding their service commitments;
- offering contract terms that are fair to customers and easy to understand; and
- communicating with customers in a clear and transparent way at all times.
To help retailers demonstrate their commitment to these standards of conduct and make improvements to their business, we are proposing to offer retailers access to periodic market health checks.
Retailers that wish to opt in to the process will contract with a ‘market health checker’ who will undertake the check. The health checker will be an independent expert who is able to undertake the check with the retailer and would not report to WICS unless the Licensed Provider has not delivered on its commitments to the Market Health Checker. Information about the outcome will then be made public so that customers can see which retailers have opted to complete the process.
The health checker role
Through consultation with the 19 retailers that operate in the market and other stakeholders we have been able to develop the principles underpinning the health check process. We now wish to appoint an independent individual to work with us and the retailers as we address more detailed questions of scope, methodology and implementation.
In light of the innovative nature of the market health check, we intend to pilot the approach first. We are looking for an individual with the appropriate expertise and experience to undertake the role of market health checker effectively and are seeking expressions of interest at this stage.
Further information on the context and rationale for the market health check, along with key selection criteria, are provided in a presentation pack.
The closing date for expressions of interest to be submitted is 31 January 2022.