British Gas owner Centrica profits increase five-fold to £1.34 billion as energy bills soar

Company reinstates dividend after suspending it for three years

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 28 July 2022 23:40 BST

Related: How to cut down your electricity costs at home

British Gas owner Centrica has seen operating profits increase five-fold to £1.34 billion as energy bills soar.

The company’s profits for the six months to the end of June were a substantial increase on earnings compared to the £262m recorded in the same period last year.

The energy giant announced it would be reinstating its dividend at 1p per share this year after suspending it for three years.

Group chief executive Chris O’Shea reportedly claimed Centrica’s profits were not down to customers’ rising energy bills.

Oil company Shell also reported record profits of $11.5bn, doubling its earnings in a single year amid surging energy prices.

Speaking to TalkTV, former Energy UK chief Angela Knight said there was a “big question mark over those who are making extraordinary profits from an extraordinary world situation”.

Miatta Fahnbulleh, chief executive of the New Economics Foundation, also wrote on Twitter: “Energy company #Centrica made an additional £1bn profit in the last 6 months, whilst millions of people can't afford to heat their homes.

“Our economic system is currently enabling this, but it doesn't have to be this way.”

Group chief executive Chris O’Shea said Centrica would continue to support customers “through the most challenging energy crisis in living memory”.

He added: “We are very aware of the difficult environment many customers are facing and we will continue supporting them.

“We are investing in our customers and colleagues, creating at least 500 additional UK-based customer service roles in British Gas Energy and 1,000 new UK engineering apprenticeships, while through the British Gas Energy Support Fund we are providing grants to help customers pay their energy bills.

“We have a clear strategy to continue improving operational performance, to grow our business and to position ourselves to deliver net zero at a cost which helps the many, not the few.

“We are committed to investing in the energy transition which will improve the security of energy supply in our core markets.”

Oil company Shell also reported record profits of $11.5bn, doubling its earnings in a single year amid surging energy prices.

Centrica group chief executive Chris O’Shea reportedly says profits are not down to customers’ rising energy bills

This is up from $5.5bn in April-June 2021, marking a $6bn increase in profits, and up from $9.1 billion in the first quarter of 2022.

The oil giant recorded a fourteen-fold increase in quarterly profits earlier this year which had reignited calls for a windfall tax to relieve the burden on struggling families during the worsening cost of living crisis.

Operating profits at British Gas fell by 43 per cent to £98m compared to £172m this time last year, before the energy crisis had properly bitten.

Energy bills are set to triple as British households face an “almighty hit” to living standards, economists have warned.

The average household could face a bill of £500 for energy in January 2023, with a prediction of an annual price cap of £3,850, far exceeding already gloomy predictions for rising bills made earlier this year.

The forecast, by utilities consultancy BFY Group, came as Russia took further steps to slash its gas supplies to Europe, strangling the market even further.

The country has drastically reduced gas supplies to several European states since waging war on Ukraine. The bitter conflict has upped pressure on global food, petrol and domestic energy costs.

“If you look back at the same time last year, your bill is likely to be three times what you would have been paying in January,” Gemma Berwick, a senior consultant at BFY, told The Independent.

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