By Ben Simmons

British Gas and ScottishPower both posted profits despite the unseasonably warm winter and widespread cost cutting from an increasingly price-conscious public.

That the energy giants remained profitable despite rock bottom consumer confidence that has seen vanguards of the high street fold into administration on a weekly basis, is testament to the stability of the energy market.

Responding to British Gas and ScottishPower’s results today Adam Scorer, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Consumer Focus, said:

"It is not surprising that British Gas’s overall profits are down, with customer energy use falling by 21% for gas and 4% for electricity and the loss of 100,000 customer supply accounts. What both firms’ results show however is that the energy industry is close to recession-proof. Healthy profits are still being made despite a big dip in consumption over our mild winter this year.

“The results of British Gas, ScottishPower and EDF, and predictions for SSE, all show fairly steady profits can be made in the energy business in all circumstances. It is a very different experience from that of their customers who have seen bills soaring when wholesale prices have risen and only small cuts when costs have fallen.

“British Gas happens to be the most open of all the Big Six. But as long as the market is not felt to be fully transparent, consumers will continue to question every price rise, every profit statement and every explanation as to why bills are so high.

“Consumers need to be assured that the price they pay is continually fair, and that the competitive energy market is working in their interests. Getting greater clarity over pricing and profits is essential to rebuild faith in this market.’

Ofgem recently carried out an independent audit of the suppliers accounts. Consumer Focus wants to the regulator act upon the recommendations of the auditors — to make sure information is fully transparent, comparable, and includes profit and trading information from across the whole of their business.


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