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British Gas 'boosting profits with old customer credit'

The whistleblower said British Gas has taken £20m from customers with outstanding credit on their accounts. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

A whistleblower at British Gas has claimed the energy giant boosts its own profits by using millions of pounds of credit built up by former customers.

The provider has taken £20m from customers with outstanding credit over the past year, the unnamed whistleblower told The Observer.

The credit - built up when customers use less energy than they are originally billed for - was taken by British Gas when private and business users were overcharged on initial estimates and then switched to another supplier, with outstanding money still owed to them.

The whistleblower claims British Gas established a special team to speed up what is a legal, but widely frowned upon, transfer of funds.

British Gas said it makes "every effort" to track down former customers to return money to them, but said it is unable to locate all those who have left.


Customer anger over British Gas price hike

British Gas customers have expressed their anger over the company's latest price rise.

The energy giant announced today that electricity and gas prices will rise by 10.4 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively from November 23.

British Gas said the price rise was a "difficult decision" but necessary in the current climate.

The Prime Minister David Cameron described the rises as "disappointing" and urged people to try to save money by switching suppliers, while Labour has repeated its promise to freeze energy prices if it wins the next general election.

ITV News' Paul Davies reports:

Read: British Gas 'brave' to host Q&A on day of price hike

British Gas 'brave' to host Q&A on day of price hike

British Gas are "brave" for hosting an online question and answer forum on the day of their latest price hike, consumer group Which? said.

Twitter users have already been sending messages to the company, before the session has even begun.


Our Customer Services Director Bert Pijls will be taking part in a Q&A about our price rise at 1-2pm. Tweet your questions using #AskBG!

One user posted a picture of an old woman wrapped in blankets and huddled next to a heater, writing: "Do images like this help you sleep at night Bertie?".

Another said: "Hey @BritishGas how many vulnerable people do you think you will push into fuel poverty whilst continuing to make billions in profit?".

Tweeter Alan Gibbs added: "My parents 89 & 82 want to know more about the early signs of hypothermia, especially with the winter coming on."

Read: British Gas urges 'worried' customers to contact them


British Gas urges 'worried' customers to contact them

British Gas have called on customers concerned about their latest energy price rise to contact them.

In a statement, the energy giant said: "We know that our customers will be concerned about today’s announcement and we will do our utmost to help people keep bills under control.

"Contact us on 0800 980 1917 if you’re worried and we’ll see what we can do – there’s a lot of help available.”

Customers can contact British Gas on 0800 980 1917 or visit their website for advice on their energy bills

Labour: 'Price freeze needed to halt energy price rise'

The latest British Gas price shows why a price freeze is needed more than ever, Labour said.

British Gas earlier announced that electricity and gas prices will rise by an average of 9.2 per cent from November 23.

British Gas earlier announced that their energy prices were going to rise by 9.2 per cent. Credit: PA Wire

Caroline Flint, Labour's Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: "These latest price rises show clearer than ever why Labour’s price freeze is needed.

"People are sick and tired of being left out of pocket because of David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies."

Labour promised to freeze energy prices until 2017 if it won the next general election, at their annual conference in September.

Read: Energy price rise adds £134 to average yearly bill

Davey: British Gas' numbers 'just don't add up'

Energy Secretary Edward Davey said British Gas' numbers "just don't add up" after the firm raised its electricity and gas prices.

Mr Davey said the increases are "extremely disappointing news for British Gas’ customers, and the company will need to justify this decision openly and transparently."

Ed Davey speaking in the House of Commons during Energy Secretary's Questions today.
Ed Davey speaking in the House of Commons during Energy Secretary's Questions today. Credit: ITV News

He continued: “I recently wrote to energy companies asking them to publish their costs of delivering the Energy Company Obligation.

"Today’s announcement shows why that’s necessary, because British Gas’ ECO numbers just don’t add up when you look at what other energy companies are saying about their costs.”

Read: British Gas prices up 9.2%

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