Centrica profits grief

Centrica who trade as Scottish Gas in Scotland have posted an 11 per cent rise in profits after last year’s colder-than-normal weather saw gas use leap 12 per cent and in spite of a 1 per cent fall in customer accounts. The results raise questions over the fairness of energy bill increases after they raised tariffs by 6 per cent at the end of last year.

Scotland’s largest trade union is calling for urgent action to stem the flow of people falling into the despair of fuel poverty. Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said:

“The rise in fuel poverty is a blight on this country with hundreds and thousands of people joining the growing numbers now spending more than 10% of household income on energy costs. Without action we are sleepwalking into very cold and dark future.

“The high cost of fuel has made ‘heat or eat’ a dilemma for many families and it is a scandal that 1.6m million children are living in fuel poverty in the UK. Shareholders and directors should not be creaming profits from British Gas and adding to the numbers of consumers struggling with their bills.”

There are difficulties in comparing figures between the UK’s ‘big six’ utility providers including foreign ownership and differences in accounting terminology. However the Guardian has had a go using Ofgem data. They show that Centrica made greater profits than their competitors.

Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Caroline Flint, said the profit figures showed that it is time for a “complete overhaul of our energy market. People will not understand why, just a few months ago, British Gas claimed they had no option but to put up their prices when now it looks like they’re making huge profits on the back of spiralling bills for hard-pressed consumers.”

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