British Gas owner Centrica sees profits triple to £3.3 billion

British Gas owner Centrica sees profits triple to £3.3 billion following a scandal which saw the company forcibly install pre-payment meters into struggling people's homes

British Gas owner Centrica has seen its profits soar to more than £3 billion for 2022 amid rocketing energy prices that have sparked a cost-of-living crisis.

The energy giant reported underlying operating profits of £3.3 billion against profits of £948 million in 2021.

Chris O'Shea, group chief executive, said: “Our performance in 2022 demonstrates the benefits of our balanced portfolio and our strong balance sheet.

"The energy crisis and cost of living pressures have created a challenging environment for customers and communities, but we have been able to provide much needed stability and support”.

Underlying earnings for the group jumped to £2.8 billion from £392 million the previous year, after subtracting its Spirit Energy businesses which were sold in March 2022.

Centrica said it made operating profits of £72 million at its British Gas retail division, British Gas Energy, but this was down 39% on the year before.

The earnings haul for last year comes as anger grows over a run of massive profits notched up in the sector and mounting calls for greater windfall taxes.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “This is a betrayal for British Gas customers across the country who are struggling to keep their heating on.

“Once again the Government’s failure to implement a proper windfall tax is allowing oil and gas businesses to make billions off the back of hardworking families.

“What makes this worse is that thousands of British Gas families have had their homes broken into and prepayments forcibly installed because they could no longer afford to pay their sky high bills.

“This cannot continue."

The figures were released after the gas giant came under fire for its use of debt collectors to install expensive pre-payment meters by force in the homes of vulnerable cash-strapped customers.

The scandal sparked an urgent inquiry by regulator Ofgem and has seen Centrica banned from force-fitting pre-payment meters.

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports on Ofgem's reaction to an investigation showing debt collectors forcing entry into homes to fit prepayment energy meters

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said: “British Gas owner Centrica has been coining it in from our massive energy bills while sending bailiffs to prey on vulnerable consumers the length and breadth of the country.

“These energy companies are showing us everything that is wrong with the UK’s broken economy.

“Rishi Sunak should get a grip – pull the plug on rampaging energy profiteering, impose a meaningful, tough windfall tax and give the NHS a pay rise with the proceeds.”

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