Leading article: Whatever the weather, someone pays the price

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The Independent Online

There is a certain poetic justice in the news that the warmer weather is being blamed for losses that British Gas has made since April. Profits are down 54 per cent on last year. But the truth is that consumer revenge may be as responsible as divine retribution. The company's decision to hike its gas prices by 18 per cent, and its electricity by almost as much, has led to large numbers of customers switching to other suppliers.

Sadly, however, it is not the fat-cat bosses who are really feeling the effects of what has happened. Despite the British Gas losses, its parent company, Centrica, has announced a £1.3bn operating profit for the first half of 2011. Those who have paid the price are the 850 British Gas employees who are to lose their jobs to reduce company overheads.

Whatever the weather, someone suffers – and, this being Britain, those who suffer most always seem to be those at the bottom.