The UK energy market has come under fire for ‘taking advantage’ of consumers, as British Gas reveals it made record profits of £595m last year.
It said the 58% increase in profits, up from £376m in 2008, was due to a surge in new customers and operational improvements.
However, the announcement has fuelled anger over energy bills and prompted critics to call for immediate price cuts across the market.
To find out which energy suppliers have cut their prices, and to compare energy tariffs available in your area, visit Which? Switch. You can also find out how to cut your energy costs, buy a more efficient boiler and discover the most energy efficient home appliances Which? has tested.
Energy bills not reduced
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘When consumers are told that wholesale prices are falling and energy companies are announcing bumper profits, they’re going to question why their fuel bills aren’t being reduced.
‘Energy suppliers must be upfront about how they calculate bills, otherwise it’s hard not to conclude consumers are being taken for a very expensive ride.’
Taking advantage of energy consumers
Deputy chief executive of government body Consumer Focus Philip Cullum said: ‘Energy companies have taken advantage this winter, while more than six million UK households live in fuel poverty and face a desperate struggle to keep warm.’
He said that energy companies have no excuses for not cutting bills for their customers and suggested the energy market requires fundamental reform.
Mr Cullum added: ‘That British Gas has been the only major supplier to cut standard prices over the past seven months demonstrates a market devoid of competitive pressure.’
Our guide to cutting your energy costs has top tips for reducing your energy bills.
Energy suppliers’ profits soar
Earlier this week energy regulator Ofgem reported that energy suppliers’ profit margins have grown significantly over recent months, due to falling wholesale costs.
It found that energy suppliers are now making an average of £105 per dual fuel customer, up from £75 in November 2009.
The energy regulator said it was waiting to see how other energy suppliers responded to British Gas’ price cut and would not hesitate to consider further action if necessary.
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