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British Gas announces profit rise

British Gas’ profit rise raises anger after price hike.

British GasBritish Gas has reported an 11% increase in year-on-year profits, with operating profits up from £544 million to £606 million

British Gas customers saw bills go up by 6% last winter,  which the company blamed on rising wholesale prices and higher costs to upgrade the national grid.

The news follows uSwitch research, which found that 69% of households have gone without heating at some point this winter to keep their energy costs down. Over a third of people said that rationing their energy use is affecting their quality of life or health.The energy supplier has previously warned that it would incur further increased costs to deliver the government’s energy efficiency policies, which could add another £60 to bills this year.

What British Gas say

On announcing its profit rise, Centrica, owners of British Gas, said it was already helping its most vulnerable customers and needed to make profit to continue to invest in the UK energy infrastructure: “We have taken the lead during 2012 in helping more households save energy and supporting the people who need the most help.

“It’s important that Centrica makes a fair and reasonable return so that we can continue to make our contribution to society and to invest. Last year we incurred a tax charge of over £1 billion and invested over £2 billion to secure new sources of energy for the UK, well in excess of our profits.”

British Gas, the rise of the bills


Annual Bill Size

Jan 2004


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Jan 2012*


Jan 2013


Source: uSwitch.comAnnual bill sizes based on a medium user profile on a standard plan. Customers using 3,300 kWh and 16,500 kWh gas, paying on receipt of bill with bill sizes averaged across all regions. *After price cut came into effect on 12th January.

 A bitter pill

ann robinsonAnn Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch, said: “Asking customers to swallow a 6% winter price hike and then unveiling a 11% increase in profits is tantamount to waving a red rag at a bull.

“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.

“While British Gas makes a strong case about future investment, jobs and security, I suspect there will be little sympathy, especially amongst those who have shivered at home this winter.

“Almost seven in ten households (69%) have gone without heating at some point this winter to keep their energy costs down – almost two in ten (17%) are doing this regularly. At the same time, over a third of people (35%) say that cutting back on energy usage is affecting their quality of life or health.

“While we welcome news of job creation and the positive benefits that a company like British Gas can bring, we would also urge it to remember the impact of high prices on its customers and to bring its prices down again.

“As Britain’s biggest supplier it would be great to see British Gas take the lead. However, consumers should help themselves too.

“There are two steps that everyone should now take to protect themselves from the high cost of energy – use less energy by making homes more energy efficient and pay less for what you do use by moving to a more competitive plan.

“There is currently almost £250 difference between the cheapest and most expensive tariffs on the market – households can easily achieve a valuable saving just by moving to dual fuel, paying by direct debit and signing up to a competitively priced deal.”

 Learn more

7 in 10 go without heating

Centrica creates 1400 jobs in energy efficiency