By Chris O'Shea

Group Chief Executive

We know people are deeply worried about the increase in their energy bills this winter.

The bold customer support package from the new Prime Minister and Chancellor will bring immediate relief to hard pressed households and we applaud the speed and scale of action.

Alongside this support, we will continue to help thousands of vulnerable households for the duration of the crisis - we have to.

I’ll be honest, we won’t be able to help everyone, but we will make sure we will get support to thousands of customers that need it the most. Earlier this year we put £6m into a fund called The British Gas Energy Support Fund to help our most vulnerable customers, but we know we need to do more.

We stand at a very important point; my view is that those of us in business need to look at things differently. At British Gas, we take into account the best interests all of our “stakeholders” when we make decisions – our 10 million customers, our 20,000 colleagues, and our 500,000 owners, many of whom are the “Sids” who bought shares in the eighties and are struggling like everyone else.

"We don’t have a silver bullet and we know this fund can’t reach everyone. But I believe it can help make a real difference for those who really need our support."

I’m increasingly worried about our customers who are really struggling with their bills. So today we’re announcing that we’re going to give 10% of British Gas energy supply profits to target help at our customers who need it the most with grants between £250 and £750. This is the biggest energy support package but it’s hard to predict what will happen over the next few years, so we’ll commit to doing this for as this as long as the energy crisis continues.

Our next donation will be £12 million into this fund and it’s a bit more than 10% of our profits – this takes our support into The British Gas Energy Support Fund to £18 million in the last 8 months.

On top of this, we also fund an independent charity, The British Gas Energy Trust with over £6 million each year and this is aimed at supporting all energy consumers, not just British Gas customers.

We don’t have a silver bullet and we know this fund can’t reach everyone. But I believe it can help make a real difference for those who really need our support.

This financial help is on top of our investment in 500 additional call centre staff to support our customers, our new apprentice hired every day for the rest of this decade, our Warm Homes Discount payments, and the money we already give to the British Gas Energy Trust to help all consumers with grants and money advice centres. Taken together, this year we will spend well over £100 million to support and help customers during this difficult time.

One of the questions customers will be asking as they see reports of price rises, is “why can’t energy companies just lower prices and cut our bills?”. It’s a good question. But under the current system our regulator Ofgem sets the price you pay for energy to make sure everyone pays a fair price that reflects the actual cost of energy.  If an energy supplier decided to charge below that cap, they will lose money quickly and will go out of business.  We’ve already seen that if you don’t have robust and resilient energy companies then consumers pay the price – each and every household in the UK is forking out £100 more this year on energy bills to pay for the collapse of multiple energy companies last year and this can’t be allowed to happen again.

Things are likely to remain tough for some time, but I want all our customers to know they shouldn’t struggle alone. We will help as many as we can financially, as well as advising on other services and support. There are a number of ways all energy customers, not just those who are with British Gas, can receive help. I would urge anyone who has friends, families or neighbours who are struggling to check what is available and the British Gas Energy Trust is a great place to start.

Note - Updated on 14th September to reflect support package announced by Government