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.’
Which? energy campaigns
Which? campaigns to make people’s lives fairer, simpler and safer. We’re currently campaigning on energy issues such as the Green Deal, confusing energy tariffs, and smart meters. To find out more about our campaigns, follow Which? Action on Twitter or facebook.
Lower your gas and electricity bills
You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.
Which? RSS and Twitter news feeds
For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? consumer news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/news.xml into your newsreader.
Follow @WhichNews on Twitter for the latest news, or @WhichAction to see how we’re campaigning for consumers.