British Gas scraps £5 late payment chargeMove is 'victory for consumers'

06 March 2007

British Gas has staged a u-turn over controversial plans to hit customers with a £5 late payment penalty.

The charge was due to come into force from this month, with anyone more than 28 days late in settling a bill liable for the additional fee.

But new Managing Director Phil Bentley said he had decided to bin the proposal after listening to the views of customers.

Mr Bentley, who took over the reins at British Gas on 1 March, said: 'The vast majority of customers pay their household bills on time and so to ease their concerns about a late payment charge I've decided to scrap it.

'This does not mean I am going soft on the small minority who continually pay their bills late - it costs us £20 million each year which in effect places a higher burden on those customers who do pay their bills on time - and we will be more rigorous than ever to pursue these amounts owed.'

Victory for consumers

The reversal of policy follows lobbying efforts by consumer groups who had previously criticised British Gas over the punitive measure.

Responding to the announcement, Audrey Gallacher of Energywatch, said: 'This is a real victory for consumers and for common sense. Energywatch made strong calls for British Gas to ditch its proposed £5 penalty charge and we're pleased the company has listened and made this u-turn.'