British Gas to hit customers with price hike

 
Marion Dakers
BRITISH Gas is preparing to hike its gas and electricity prices by around eight per cent as early as today, leaving its variable tariff customers with an average of £100 extra on their bills.

The group, which has around 12m residential customers in the UK, last increased its bills in August 2011, blaming rising costs.

Parent firm Centrica cut electricity bills by five per cent in January, in line with several other utility firms, but said long-term wholesale prices meant the same could not be done for gas bills.

The firm is following in the footsteps of SSE, which in the summer warned that its energy prices would rise.

Centrica reported adjusted operating profits of £1.45bn, up 15 per cent, in the first half of the year. This included a 23 per cent rise in earnings from residential customers.

Labour’s shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said: “Hard-pressed families and businesses need much more transparency on costs, pricing and profits to know whether they’re getting a fair deal, but the government’s Energy Bill does nothing to reform the energy market.”

British Gas and Centrica refused to comment on “speculation”.