The energy giant npower posted a 34 per cent leap in annual profit to €480m (£414m) last year, less than four months after hitting customers with an inflation-busting price rise. It increased its UK electricity prices by nine per cent in November, and put up gas bills by 8.8 per cent, pushing the average customer’s dual fuel bill up by more than £100 to £1,352 a year.
Stripping out the impact of currency movements, npower’s operating profit in sterling was 25 per cent higher last year, at £390m. Critics claimed customers were simply paying for better returns for shareholders. Mark Todd, director of the comparison website energy helpline, said: “Prices up and then profits up – it seems to be the same old story in the energy market. Today, consumers are dealing with yet more news of double-digit profit from a major energy supplier.”
A further 300,000 households have been pushed into fuel poverty – spending more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel – taking the total to 7.5 million, according to the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group.