British Gas owner’s profits soar to £2.8BILLION from £392million the year before as millions suffer with soaring energy bills during the cost-of-living crisis
- Chief executive Chris O’Shea set for salary and bonus bonanza of up to £4.26m
- READ MORE: Huge profits follow row about debt collectors breaking into homes
British Gas owner Centrica has reported record annual underlying operating profits soaring to £2.8billion from £392million in 2021.
The huge profit haul, which comes after a row over debt collectors breaking into the homes of hard-up customers to install pre-payment meters by force, will provoke a fresh round of accusations of profiteering by energy firms.
Millions of British Gas customers, along with those of other providers, have been struggling to pay their energy bills as prices have soared due to the war in Ukraine.
Chief executive Chris O’Shea is likely to come under pressure to scale back a potential multi-million pound pay and incentive package.
He is in line for a salary and bonus bonanza of up to £4.26 million, linked to Centrica’s performance.
Today’s results for British Gas owner Centrica surpass the company’s previous profit high of £2.7bn, recorded in 2012
Mr O’Shea, who lives in a £1.5 million home in Reading, last year gave up a bonus of more than £1 million for 2021 because of the ‘hardships faced by our customers’.
However, the company’s pay committee said at the time that if he was entitled to a bonus for 2022 they intended to hand it out, saying it is ‘unsustainable’ for him to carry on sacrificing rewards.
In 2021, Centrica made £761 million profit. It has already revealed it made £1.34 billion in the first half of 2022.
Other energy firms, including Shell and BP, have reported bumper results so far this year.
Centrica, which still has a large number of small shareholders, will also hike its dividend and launch a fresh share buyback – just three months after the £250 million bonanza announced in November.
Centrica is the largest electricity and gas supplier to British homes and serves more than ten million customers.
It has benefited from soaring energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading to accusations of profiteering.
The company has seen particularly strong performances from its North Sea production and energy trading arms, as well as its 20 per cent ownership of Britain’s five nuclear power stations.
It is now poised to pay a whopping £1 billion into the Treasury’s coffers. That is more than oil giant Shell which last week revealed it will only pay £110 million in UK windfall tax for 2022.
But it is less than BP which will pay £1.8 billion. Centrica has been hit by two windfall taxes over the past year as Ministers try to tax ‘excess’ profits generated by oil and gas producers, as well as low-carbon electricity generators.
Chief executive Chris O’Shea is likely to come under pressure to scale back a potential multi-million pound pay and incentive package
Serious questions remain over the future of Centrica’s Rough storage facility off the Yorkshire coast which partly reopened in October after significant engineering upgrades over the summer.
The move was a major boost for the UK this winter but the site is still running at only a fifth of its previous capacity.
As a result, Britain could leave itself vulnerable to gas shortages and high energy prices next winter because of the failure of the Government and Centrica to reach agreement on expanding the Rough facility.
The Mail on Sunday has learned the site requires £1 billion investment. Centrica had been willing to cough up £500 million and hoped the Government would make up the other half.
However, talks between the Government and Centrica over the new funding have collapsed in recent weeks and Centrica has warned that it will not be able to expand the capacity in time for next winter.
Sources said that the discussions had become increasingly heated and acrimonious, adding that the Government had walked away.
Millions of British Gas customers, along with those of other providers, have been struggling to pay their energy bills as prices have soared due to the war in Ukraine
Simon Francis, co-ordinator of End Fuel Poverty, said the profit haul was ‘obscene’.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said today: “British Gas owner Centrica has been coining it in from our massive energy bills while sending bailiffs to prey on vulnerable consumers the length and breadth of the country.
“These energy companies are showing us everything that is wrong with the UK’s broken economy.
“Rishi Sunak should get a grip – pull the plug on rampaging energy profiteering, impose a meaningful, tough windfall tax and give the NHS a pay rise with the proceeds.”
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