British Gas owner's profits soar to £3.3BILLION
British Gas owner Centrica has seen profits triple to more than £3billion for 2022 due to rocketing energy prices that have left millions struggling to pay bills.
The huge haul, which comes after a row over debt collectors breaking into the homes of hard-up customers to forcibly install pre-payment meters, has provoked fresh accusations of profiteering and demands for a higher windfall tax.
The energy giant reported underlying operating profits of £3.3billion against profits of £948million in 2021. Stripping out its Spirit Energy businesses that were sold, underlying earnings jumped to £2.8billion from £392million the previous year.
Millions of British Gas customers, along with those of other providers, have been struggling to pay energy bills as prices have soared due - we are told - to the war in Ukraine.
Chief executive Chris O'Shea is now 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 £4.2million linked to Centrica's performance.
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.
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 £250million bonanza announced in November.
The group is the largest electricity and gas supplier to UK homes and serves more than ten million customers.