The chief executive of British Gas' parent company Centrica, Iain Conn, is to step down from his post after the company posted a huge loss in the first half of the year.

Centrica posted a pre-tax loss of £446 million in the six months to June, having reported a profit of over more than £700m in the same period last year, marking more than a £1 billion swing.

The company is also reducing its dividend payments and selling investments in oil and gas exploration.

Centrica's consumer division, of which British Gas is the central figure, saw profits drop 44% to £240m.

Announcing his decision to resign as chief executive, as well as retire from the company's board, Iain Conn said: "The most difficult thing has been the price cap coming in. It cost British Gas £300m in profits this year,

"All the current price cap has done is actually delayed the issues rather than solve them, and I'm hoping a new fresh look by this new government may make changes.

"It's always been said that the price cap is going to be temporary and we look forward to the day when it's rolled back."

He added: "We are finishing the journey to becoming a customer-facing energy and solution company. Once we have done that, it is the right time for me to hand over to a successor - a natural moment.

"We have been shifting a company to one in tune with a lower carbon economy.

"We grew consumer accounts in the first half of the year in the UK. We did lose 178,000 energy accounts, but we more than made up for it in the accounts in the other businesses.

"What seems to be happening is when we get close to being in the top five on a price comparison website, people prefer us

"We are bundling energy with services and we make money out of both. It's early days, but I'm very encouraged by what's happened in the first half of the year."