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British Gas owner Centrica reports 2% operating profit rise

Centrica owns British Gas. Credit: PA

British Gas owner Centrica has fuelled further controversy after reporting profit rises.

It reported a two per cent rise in UK and Ireland operating profits to £906 million, helping group operating profits jump four per cent to £1.5 billion.

The company is expected to face fresh calls to address tariffs for businesses and domestic consumers.

Centrica's British Gas residential energy supply arm, which only covers UK homes, reported an 11% drop in operating profits to £553 million, compared with £623 million in 2015, but said the reduction was due in part to a customer exodus.

More than 409,000 UK home customers left the business in 2016, marking a 3% fall to 14.25 million.

British Gas announced it was extending a price freeze on its standard energy tariff until August, "despite increases in external costs", but customers are expecting prices to soar later this year, following the Brexit-induced collapse of the pound and rising wholesale energy prices.

The industry has faced increasing pressure to treat loyal customers fairly and has been criticised for being slow to pass on falls in wholesale gas prices, with consumer groups hitting out at the size and timing of cuts.

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Energy price row reignited as British Gas profits double

The row about high energy prices has been ignited after British Gas announced its profits had doubled in the first half of this year.

A report found Brits were paying 5% more for their energy bills that they should. Credit: PA

It comes as its parent group Centrica said it would be axing 4,000 jobs, not all of which will be in the UK.

The cut follows a strategic review aimed at delivering savings of £750 million a year by 2020.

British Gas profits were £528 million for the first half of the year, more than it made in the whole of 2014, even though it recently cut prices by 5%.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "While it's good to see the new commitment from Centrica to focus on serving customers, with British Gas profits high and wholesale prices low, customers will no doubt wonder why cuts to their bills haven't gone further, and haven't included electricity.

"Following the Competition and Markets Authority's blistering assessment of this sector, we expect big suppliers to pass on falling costs to their customers quickly and fairly."

British gas owner Centrica to cut 4,000 jobs

Centrica's head office in Windsor. Credit: PA

Centrica is to axe thousands of jobs following a strategic review, it was announced today.

The British Gas owner said it was reducing its headcount by 6,000 across the group, not all in the UK.

But the company will create 2,000 other jobs so the net effect will be 4,000 job losses.

British Gas' operating profit was up by 44%, according to today's interim first half results from the group, which was larger than expected.

The company said this was because of a colder year compared to 2014, with consumption up by 11%.

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Ed Miliband energy freeze 'will bring up bills'

Energy bills are likely to go up in the longer run if Labour come to power, the chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica has told ITV News.

Ed Miliband pledged an energy price freeze if Labour wins the election. Credit: PA

Leader Ed Miliband pledged to freeze energy bills for 20 months if his party wins the general election, but Sam Laidlaw says the plans are likely to scare investors, thereby raising the cost of capital for energy companies and in turn leading to higher bills.

Asked if the plans were already having such an effect, Mr Laidlaw said general "political uncertainty" was raising the cost of capital for energy firms.

British Gas to make £40 profit per customer, boss says

The boss of British Gas parent Centrica has told ITV News the company will make far less profit from energy bills than watchdog Ofgem has suggested.

Chief executive Sam Laidlaw told ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills the energy firm would make £40 profit per customer per year - some way from the £106 Ofgem says energy companies are set to make.

He added the watchdog's estimates were "not an accurate representation" and do not "help consumer trust".

Milder winter helps British Gas profits tumble by 26%

A milder winter and energy efficiencies helped British Gas profits tumble by 26% in the first half of 2014.

Parent company Centrica predicts average bills will fall by around £90 this year because consumers are not using as much power.

However, industry regulator Ofgem has suggested that it sees power companies doubling their profit margins in the second half of the year.

They have already referred the Big Six energy companies to the competition authorities.

ITV News Correspondent Nina Nannar reports:

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