Alarm over increase in gas disconnections

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The Independent Online
British Gas disconnected almost 30,000 homes last year, double the number in 1995, according to figures released yesterday by the Gas Consumers Council, writes Chris Godsmark.

Sue Slipman, the GCC's director, said she was "extremely concerned" by the increase. She warned the company's policy appeared to have hardened since the roll-out of domestic competition.

British Gas said it was "catching up" with debt recovery, following a moratorium on disconnections in late 1996 while the company sorted out problems with a new national billing system.

A British Gas spokesman insisted the disconnection procedure had not changed and 54 per cent of homes contacted the company within 24 hours of being cut off. "These disconnections only happened because there was no contact from the customer."