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Centrica defends record profit of £3.3bn

Centrica argued that no one company can solve the UK’s cost of living crisis alone as it seeks to more than triple its operating profit growth to reach a record £3.3bn in 2022.

With better-than-expected results, Centrica has announced an extension to the period. £250m share buyback program It was launched in November for the first time since 2014 and this year saw a further £300m surcharge.

CentricaThe profits were made by the North Sea gas production, nuclear and energy trading sectors. These sectors have benefited from extreme wholesale market volatility caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

But the owner of british gasIt was recently embroiled in a scandal involving the forced installation of prepaid meters in the homes of vulnerable customers.

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, a group of charities, municipalities and trade unions, said Centrica’s benefits “will help seniors, young families and disabled people who are suffering in cold, damp homes this winter. It was built on my back,” he said. .

George Dibb, director of think tank IPPR’s Center for Economic Justice, called Centrica’s profits “scandalous” and called for a tax on the buyback.

The company has made a ‘voluntary donation’ to help struggling customers, even as UK retail gas sector operating profit fell 39% to £72m in 2022. Nonetheless, it was criticized. British Gas supplies electricity and gas to her more than 7.5 million homes in the UK.

Chris O’Shea, who will be Centrica’s chief executive from 2020, said there was a need for a broader discussion involving government and regulators on how to address the UK’s cost of living crisis. It has exceeded households’ ability to pay their energy bills. .

Centrica is conducting an internal investigation after a Times investigation alleges that contractors working on behalf of British Gas broke into vulnerable people’s homes and installed prepaid meters.

“Where we got it wrong, we fix it,” says O’Shea. “We have to be very clear, this is not something that British Gas can solve, it is not something that Centrica can solve. It’s a problem and hopefully more than that, it’s just the energy industry.”

All energy suppliers have been ordered by the regulator Ofgem to: stop installing prepaid meters Use court warrants until the end of winter. When asked if the practice should be ended permanently, O’Shea described the situation as “tricky”, noting that businesses extend credit to customers when they know they can’t afford to pay them back. pointed out that it is illegal in other industries to do so.

Centrica said it invested more in helping customers with rising energy prices than in the £8 after-tax profit per customer it made in the UK’s gas energy sector.

He also highlighted that after the UK government introduced a windfall tax on oil and gas producers last year, they have paid around £1 billion in taxes in 2022. A similar tax on generators was implemented earlier this year. Centrica estimates it will pay around £2.5bn in UK windfall tax by 2028.

O’Shea declined to comment on whether he will lose his annual bonus for 2022. like he did last year.

Chris Hayes, a senior analyst at the center-left Commonwealth think tank, said the CEO bonus “would be totally unjustifiable for moral, social and economic reasons. [Centrica’s profits] The windfall is due to circumstances beyond their control. ”

https://www.ft.com/content/44954510-6b79-46af-8333-168cf1e305b5 Centrica defends record profit of £3.3bn

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