Leading article: One easy way to refute accusations of profiteering


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The Independent Online

It is always the same. Consumer groups rail against high energy prices and excessive profits – in this case British Gas's cool £345m, up 23 per cent on last year. The company then defends itself with recourse to unseasonal weather, fluctuations in wholesale prices and the need for infrastructure investment.

Valid points, all; but hardly the whole story. After all, while bills rise quickly to keep up with the market, they fall neither so fast nor so far. And with so many people struggling after years of economic gloom, the excuses from Sam Laidlaw, the company's boss, ring ever more hollow.

In theory, customers can shop around. In reality, where one supplier leads, the others follow. All the more reason for British Gas – with nearly half of the market – to think again. Come on, Mr Laidlaw, do your bit: cut bills before the winter.