Calls for British Gas owner to compensate business customers from £3bn profit

Centrica announced record results on Thursday.

August Graham
Thursday 16 February 2023 16:33 GMT
A group litigation is being organised against British Gas and other energy suppliers (Alamy/PA)
A group litigation is being organised against British Gas and other energy suppliers (Alamy/PA)

A law firm representing businesses who claim they were hurt by hidden commissions on their energy bills has called on British Gas’s owner Centrica to compensate the companies from its record profit announced on Thursday.

Centrica made £3.3 billion in operating profits last year, spurred by its nuclear and energy trading divisions, which saw massive hikes. British Gas’s profit shrunk by around 39%.

Law firm Harcus Parker last week took the first steps towards a group litigation against British Gas and other energy suppliers.

The relationship between a broker and a business customer is separate from their relationship with British Gas

British Gas

It claims that the suppliers offered large commissions for brokers who managed to sign up businesses to buy their energy from the suppliers.

Some of these commissions were not disclosed, the lawyers claim, which it said would break the rules. It estimated that the average company that had joined its claim so far could get around £20,000 back if it was successful.

The total claims could total around £2 billion, Harcus Parker said. Harcus is also targeting British Gas’s rivals E.on, SSE and Opus.

British Gas said: “The relationship between a broker and a business customer is separate from their relationship with British Gas.

“All brokers operating in the market are expected to ensure that their terms and conditions comply with the relevant regulatory obligations on transparency.

The secret brokers’ commissions paid by energy companies showed a complete disregard for the customer

Damon Parker, Harcus Parker

“We offer business customers competitive prices if they come to us directly, and we have complied with the regulation regarding transparency disclosures at all times.

“Customers can also ask their broker at any time regarding the commission they are charging and we would encourage them to do that.”

Damon Parker, senior partner at Harcus Parker, said: “In the middle of a cost-of-living and energy crisis, British Gas’s parent company has announced a multi-billion profit that many people will view as obscene.

“Businesses and community groups are already struggling to keep their doors open and industry leaders tell us that this situation will drastically deteriorate with the reduction of the Government’s energy subsidy to non-domestic customers in April.

“The secret brokers’ commissions paid by energy companies showed a complete disregard for the customer.”

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