84% believe energy suppliers maximise profits at customers' expense


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The Independent Online

Consumers have become more fed up than ever with Britain’s Big Six energy firms. New research shows that 84 per cent of people believe that gas and electricity suppliers maximise profits at the expense of customers.

While the Big Six firms – British Gas, EDF, E.on, nPower, Scottish Energy and SSE - have come under heavy criticism for soaring bills, the YouGov report suggests that it’s their bloated profits that really make people angry.

Three out of five people said they agree that the energy suppliers treat people with contempt.

That gives a blunt message to the energy giants about the lack of trust customers feel and the scale of the public relations problem they have.

YouGov Sixth Sense research director James McCoy said the findings are unequivocal.

“The strength and negativity of feeling regarding the energy companies’ profits is clearly demonstrated,” he said. “The findings suggest that many people are more outraged by the profits being made than by their actual energy bill.”

In a clear sign that high bills are hitting home, one in five people said they have difficulty affording their energy bills, while just under a third have made cutbacks to pay their bills.

Figures published last week revealed that consumers now owe £478m to energy companies as nearly four million households are currently in debt to their gas or electricity supplier, after being unable to afford bills.

Households owe an average £131, according to uSwitch.

Heating and electricity charges have soared 53 per cent in the last five years, pushing the cost of the average yearly home energy bill up a massive £433. In the last year alone average bills have climbed £183 – 17 per cent – to £1,252.

Yesterday it was revealed that a quarter of households has been wrongly billed by its energy supplier in the past two years.

That left more than nine million families discovering they were in debt to their energy supplier after a discrepancy between an estimated bill and a ‘real’ bill.

The average amount owed after an incorrect bill is now £152, according to uSwitch.


Energy giant Centrica made £2.4billion profit last year, with its UK business British Gas – which has 13m customers -  posting profits of £522m.

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