SSE today issued a trading statement in which it announced it had exceeded profit expectations and expected to increase shareholder payouts by about 3%.
The news is unlikely to be welcomed by angry customers who have to deal with winter price rises and the slow implementation of government implemented cuts to green levies.
Speaking on the results, Chief Executive of SSE Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “It is encouraging that SSE is on course to deliver real growth in the dividend and increases in adjusted earnings per share and adjusted profit before tax.”
First to raise, last to cut
SSE was the first of the big six to raise its gas and electricity prices back in November 2013. The supplier’s customers saw their bills go up by an average of 8.2%.
At the time Will Morris, group managing director, retail, said the company had done “as much as [it] could to keep prices down”, but had been forced to raise them due to rising wholesale energy and distribution costs.
SSE will be the last of the big six suppliers to implement the government’s cuts to green levies. The latter will see the average consumer pay about £50 less on their gas and electricity bill.
Increased profit despite lower energy usage and price freeze pledge
SSE achieved higher profit levels and increased shareholder payouts, despite seeing its customers consume less energy and lose about a quarter of a million customers in the final nine months of 2013.
During this time, according to SSE, electricity consumption fell by 4.3% and gas by 9.5%. Labour’s pledge to freeze gas and electricity rates, should the party win the next general election, reportedly led to £7bn being wiped off the value of energy suppliers.
‘Waving a red rag at a bull’
Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch, said: “This will come as a shock to customers who have been told they must wait until the end of March for their prices to be cut in line with the Government’s levy reductions.
“SSE, like all suppliers, needs to make a profit, but announcing this while consumers are struggling through this winter with higher fuel costs is going to be like waving a red rag at a bull. Switching levels have increased massively this winter off the back of consumer discontent over prices. I would urge anyone who is unhappy to start shopping around now for a better deal.”