The owner of British Gas faces a consumer backlash amid reports it is about to announce a 15 per cent increase in profits, taking the figure to some £2.8billion.
Figures to be announced by Centrica on Wednesday point to a profits bonanza on the back of spiralling bills for struggling customers.
The profits at British Gas, which put up prices by six per cent in the teeth of the winter chill, are predicted to be up by some 10 per cent to around £580million for 2012.
The company is also under fire over payments to the departing British Gas boss, Phil Bentley, who is predicted to walk away with a package of pay, shares and a pension pot together worth more than £10million.
Centrica has tried to pre-empt the furore by publishing a study boasting about its beneficial effects on the wider UK economy in terms of employment, investment and the tax it pays.
Chief executive Sam Laidlaw said its contribution to the economy was equivalent to a city the size of Manchester, and its tax bill amounted to £158 for every UK household.
‘At a time of uncertain economic prospects, our activities across the UK are even more important to secure employment, put the supply chain to work and contribute our fair share of tax,’ he said.
The company employs some 33,000 people in the UK, while total tax paid is expected to rise from £891m in 2011 to around £1.1 billion in 2012.
Unlike most energy firms operating in the UK, it is wholly British and pays its taxes in this country. Most of its major rivals for UK customers are foreign owned by German, French and Spanish utility firms.
While that may appeal to the patriotism of its 10 million UK consumers, it does not make the pain of paying for heat and light any easier to bear.
The national average gas and electricity bill is approaching £1,300, while millions face a nightmare choice during cold spells between heating and eating.
British Gas claims a profit margin of some 5per cent - around £65 a year – which it insists is modest when compared to other businesses, such as supermarkets.
The industry blames rising wholesale costs for higher bills, while it also points to expensive government ‘green’ initiatives, such as subsidising the building of wind farms and the installation of free insulation into the homes of vulnerable customers.
The official customer body, Consumer Focus, says the public remain sceptical about whether they are paying a fair price.
Executive director at consumer champion, Which?, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘At a time when spiralling energy bills are consumers’ top financial worry, people are bound to question whether they’re paying a fair price for their energy when they see big profits announcements from the energy giants.
‘Centrica’s analysis won’t change that view as record-high bills land on millions of doormats in the coming weeks.’
The Prime Minister has announced that energy firms will be required to simplify their tariffs and move customers to the cheapest option. - Mail Online
Where does all the money go? Certainly not into our households. These big companies claim to be "helping" the economy... Where? Newspapers report on how people are having to choose between heating and food, or people dying in their homes from exposure because they couldn't afford to turn on their heating - so how the hell can any company claim to be doing "good" when the people who are forced to support the company can not even support themselves?
Of course the company will claim that them earning more money is in some way beneficial to the world or to the country - they want to keep making more money and take home big bonuses. I reckon that about 99% of the human population would do exactly the same if they were to be placed in the position of a big company bigwig.
There are many reasons thrown around for the state of the world, for the fact that so many starve and live in poverty. "It's the governments faults!"; "Blame the illuminati"; "No it's the corporations"; "It's because of debt"; oh and the best one: it's human nature.
Please. It's the nature of greed, not of humans. We are the products of society and society was shaped and guided by people who were brutal and motivated enough to do the unbelievable - the things everyone thought no one was capable of doing. Being stupid and selfish is not a part of our natures. Consider the feral child. If one were to look at a feral child as the one and only example of humanity, one could not claim any of our current traits as being a part of that child's nature. Feral children are the proof that human nature is simply what it is molded to be.