Households up and down the country are understandably worried about the prospect of big increases in their energy bills from April.
Customers could very well see Ofgem agree a £700 a year increase in the Energy Price Cap, possibly followed by another £200 in October.
Energy suppliers have to pass on higher wholesale costs to survive. But at British Gas we are working hard with Government to find a way to protect families from the full force of the price hikes.
This doesn’t mean that we are looking for a Government bailout. There are reports that some energy companies want a £20 billion hand out to keep household bills down. Not British Gas. We haven’t asked for a bailout, we don’t want a bailout and we oppose any bail outs.
Our advice to Government is to try to help those customers who are already struggling to make ends meet, not to worry about helping energy companies’ balance sheets.
"The rising costs of living, coupled with the increasing cost of energy, are putting more people under financial pressure. Our customers need our support now more than ever. This fund adds to the financial support and advice we already offer our customers either directly or indirectly through organisations such as the British Gas Energy Trust. We’re doing everything we can to help, and this additional grant will make a big difference to our most financially vulnerable customers."
Chris O'Shea, Chief Executive, Centrica
We also worked with the British Gas Energy Trust, an independent charity funded solely by British Gas, to run a nation-wide marketing campaign that encourages anyone in need of assistance with their energy bills to get in touch.
During 2021, the energy market faced unprecedented challenges as global supplies of gas constricted and demand surged. This resulted in higher gas prices and led to over a third of all the UK’s energy suppliers going out of business over a short period of time. Because we manage the risks facing our energy retail business robustly, we were adequately hedged and had sufficient capital to face the challenge.
These efforts led to a significant number of people coming forward and receiving the support they needed. We continue to work with Ofgem and the UK Government to identify ways of improving the robustness of the regulatory framework to ensure the sector is more resilient to similar crises in the future.
Towards this, we gave evidence at the House of Lords and discussed the need to introduce more robust controls with Ofgem – from making sure every supplier hedges properly, to ensuring they’ve the right risk management policy and amount of capital to deliver on their commitments to customers, which includes ensuring customer credit balances are protected. We’ve also encouraged Ofgem to spread recovery costs over a longer period to reduce the burden on hard-pressed households. Consequently, Ofgem has published an action plan, by which it intends to improve the financial resilience of energy suppliers.
British Gas continues to support customers in a number of ways including:
- Continuing to help customers manage their debt and giving them more time to pay, through payment plans and encouraging early meter readings. Last year 300,000 customers were supported in this way.
- British Gas has contributed £120 million to assist customers on low income through the Warm Home Discount in 2021.
- Providing energy efficiency improvements to thousands UK households.
- Supporting nearly 3 million customers on British Gas’ Priority Services Register, which receives around 5,000 calls to the dedicated phone line each week.
- Additionally, the British Gas Energy Trust funds 49 frontline advice services across England, Scotland, and Wales. All energy customers, not just those with British Gas, have access this help.
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