British Gas faces price rise storm after announcing 11% profit rise
Company accused of 'making money on the back of spiralling bills' won't rule out another price hike
British Gas is expected to announce another price hike for its 12m customers despite a healthy surge in profits, risking a public backlash. The company reported profits of £606m for 2012 – up 11 per cent on the previous year – following a six per cent price rise last November.
It is now poised to announce a further price increase which could come into effect before next winter, the Daily Mail reports, while top executives at the company's owner Centrica, whose profits were up by 14 per cent to £2.7bn, will collect an estimated £10m shares windfall.
Centrica executive Chris Jansen said he couldn't rule out a price rise. "That's like looking at a crystal ball. The general trend for energy prices is prices are increasing. All we say to customers is, let's do what we can to control energy bills. Prices might be going up but bills don't need to if we control our energy use," he told ITV's Daybreak.
Jansen said last year's cold winter had contributed to the jump in profits, but shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint said it looked as if British Gas was making gains "on the back of spiralling bills for hard-pressed consumers". Last November's price rise pushed bills up by £80 to an average £1,350 a year for consumers.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said British Gas's actions were "tantamount to waving a red rag at a bull". She went on: "Yes, there is a huge amount of investment required to keep the lights on over the next ten years, but there has to be a balance between energy companies making healthy profits and people going cold for fear of the cost of turning their heating on."