British Gas boss Iain Conn condemned for £1m pay rise as millions live in fuel poverty

News comes days after Prime Minister warned government would step in to control prices in a market that is 'manifestly not working' for customers

Ben Chapman
Thursday 23 March 2017 13:25
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Mr Conn (pictured) has not yet reached the bumper pay levels of his predecessor, Sam Laidlaw, who pocketed £4.95m in 2012
Mr Conn (pictured) has not yet reached the bumper pay levels of his predecessor, Sam Laidlaw, who pocketed £4.95m in 2012

The boss of British Gas owner Centrica collected a £1m pay rise last year, taking his total package to £4.15m.

Energy campaigners have condemned the award, pointing out that almost 2.5 million people in the UK live in fuel poverty, as energy prices continue to rise.

Emma Hughes from campaign group Switched On said: “Once again we see British Gas reporting comfortable profits, while over 10 per cent of families in England suffer in cold homes struggling to pay astronomical energy bills.

“We urgently need an alternative to the big six’s rising profits. Councils can set up local public energy companies that deliver both affordable prices and clean energy.”

Centrica handed chief executive Iain Conn the 37 per cent pay boost after operating profits hit £1.5bn, up 4 per cent on 2015, the company announced on Wednesday.

It comes days after Prime Minister Theresa May warned big energy companies that government would step in to control prices in a market that is “manifestly not working” for customers.

“Our party did not end the unjust and inefficient monopolies of the old nationalised energy corporations only to replace them with a system that traps the poorest customers on the worst deals,” she said.

Ms May told the Conservative Party spring conference in Cardiff she would crack down on businesses that “abuse the system”.

UK households face a further squeeze as energy bills could rise by a further £386 on average, research from uSwitch revealed on Thursday.

The increase will affect those on fixed-price tariffs, many of which expire on 31 March.

Npower customers will be charged £445 extra each year when they roll over from a fixed-price deal onto a standard variable tariff.

SSE earlier this month became the latest major energy supplier to confirm that is increasing standard domestic electricity prices from 28 April.

British Gas has yet to announce price increases this year and said it would hold prices until August.

Centrica defended the pay package. “The awards were a critical part of securing his employment in the face of significant competition for his services,” said Lesley Knox, chairman of Centrica's remuneration committee, in the company's annual report. Much of the increase in Mr Conn’s remuneration comes from compensation for rewards he gave up when he joined Centrica from BP in January 2015.

Mr Conn has not yet reached the bumper pay levels of his predecessor, Sam Laidlaw, who pocketed £4.95m in 2012. The former boss forfeited his bonus the following year amid public outcry after the company hiked electricity prices by 9 per cent.

Research published on Wednesday found that, on average, FTSE 100 chief executives are now paid 386 times the national living wage.

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