Centrica reveals £270m British Gas profitsSupplier must restore customer trust, says Which?
28 July 2011
British Gas' parent company Centrica today published its profits for the last six months, revealing that its residential arm, British Gas, made a £270m profit over the period.
Although Centrica's profits are down from the same period last year, the announcement has sparked outrage amongst consumers, who have just been hit with British Gas price rises of 18% for gas and 16% for electricity.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd says: 'Many people are struggling with rising energy costs and when they see suppliers announcing these profits they're bound to question whether we're paying a fair price for our energy. With the latest round of price hikes yet to kick in, now is the time for the government to decide what sort of energy market we want for consumers.'
Wholesale energy price rises
British Gas is the largest domestic energy supplier in the UK, with over 11 million gas customers and six million electricity customers, many of whom will be hit by the price rises over the coming months.
When announcing the profits, Centrica explained that they were down on the same period last year, with Centrica itself making £1.3 billion as opposed to £1.6 billion in the first half of 2010.
A statement released by the company went on to explain that: 'Global events have resulted in a steep increase in commodity prices, with UK wholesale gas prices 30% higher than last winter.' It added that without the price rises British Gas would be unlikely to turn a profit in the second half of this year.
No trust in the energy industry
However, Which? believes that these explanations won't placate consumers, who are rapidly losing what little trust they had for the energy industry. Four of the 'big six' energy companies are currently being investigated for mis-selling, and two are being investigated for poor handling of complaints.
Yesterday British Gas was also fined £2.5 million for poor complaints handling.
Richard Lloyd says: 'The big six energy suppliers should be focusing all their efforts on restoring customer trust and helping struggling consumers to manage their fuel costs.'
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