British Gas penalised for home-insulation delays


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The Independent Online

British Gas has been forced to pay out more than £11m for failing to insulate the homes of poorer households.

Ofgem had set the nation’s biggest gas and electricity providers strict targets to provide thousands of homes with free loft and cavity wall insulation. But the regulator said British Gas’s failures meant 6,750 households missed out last winter. The company, owned by Centrica, eventually insulated an extra 20,000 homes – more than it was obliged to – at a cost of £1.1bn. In the past five years British Gas has insulated more than 2.5 million homes.

Ofgem said the penalty, which will go to charity, “reflects British Gas’s failure to meet its obligations on time but also recognises its commitment to put things right”.

Claire Miles, managing director of British Gas New Energy, said: “We are sorry that we missed the December 2012 deadline. However, we’re pleased that in the end we managed to help more vulnerable people under this scheme than was required.

“The donation we’re making will further help those who are struggling to keep their homes warm.”

But Gillian Guy, head of Citizens Advice, said: “British Gas dealt their customers a double blow on bills. Not only have households borne the brunt of price rises, they’ve been denied long-term solutions that would stop heat leaking from their homes.…

“This once again brings into question whether suppliers are best placed to deliver national energy efficiency programmes and whether a local model would be more effective.”

SSE and ScottishPower are also being investigated, and power firms Drax and InterGen were fined £28m and £11m respectively for the same failings last week.