Thursday, February 21, 2008

Press Release on British Gas Profiteering

The Campaign for Public Ownership condemns British Gas’ announcement of annual profits of £571m, a six times rise in its profits over the last twelve months. The massive profits, which translate to £1,200 a minute, is due to windfall profits in the first rise of last year, when British Gas was slow to cut charges to customers to reflect the big fall in world gas prices. British Gas put prices up by 36% (£299) in 2006. After that, the wholesale price of gas has dropped by 56%. However, British Gas only reduced its prices by 18%.

Despite its huge profits, last month British Gas said it would raise the amount it charges for gas and electricity by 15%.

British Gas’ primary concern is not the millions of hard-pressed Britons struggling to pay their bills, but to its shareholders. Roger Carr, Chairman of British Gas’ parent company Centrica, which has announced profits of £2.1 billion, has said shareholder value was “top of the agenda”.

It’s time for the government to put an end to this blatant profiteering by bringing British Gas back into public ownership.

Thirty years ago, utility bills were a very minor item in the household budget, now millions of Britons are struggling to afford them.

It’s clear that while proving a bonanza for the banks and wealthy shareholders, privatisation of the utilities has been a disaster for the majority of the British public.

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