British Gas to hire 500 staff to help people facing sky-high bills | Central

British Gas will beef up its customer service team to deal with a sharp rise in the number of distraught customers struggling to cope with sky-high bills as its owner Centrica forecast full-year profit to beat expectations.

The company will hire an additional 500 people to answer calls from the growing number of people facing higher energy bills at a time when the broader cost of living is outpacing wage growth, increasing pressure on consumers. family budgets.

A Centrica spokesman said demand for customer services had been “phenomenal” over the past year. “We are hiring additional employees to handle that demand,” they said. “Customers are very concerned about rising energy costs and we want to help them as much as we can.”

The average domestic dual-fuel tariff jumped to just under £2,000 a year on April 1, when the UK energy regulator raised the maximum price by 54% to reflect soaring wholesale gas prices. Bills are about to rise even higher at the next power price cap review in October.

Centrica said in a business statement on Tuesday that it expected 2022 operating profit to be at the higher end of the city’s forecasts, which range from £739m to £1.4bn.

Foreign Minister Rishi Sunak has been heavily criticized for not doing enough to help low-income households, and calls for a windfall profits tax on energy producers such as BP and Shell have intensified after they won billions in profits thanks to rising oil and gasoline prices

Centrica has also bolstered British Gas’s energy support fund, created in December, the value of which has since tripled to £6m. Provides grants of up to £750 to help vulnerable customers pay their energy bills.

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The fund has paid out £1.9m to 3,600 clients so far, equating to an average grant of £534. A further £1.6m in grants is pending.

Centrica will create another 1,000 engineering apprenticeships after 500 were established last year, with a goal of adding 3,500 over the next decade.

He said supply chain disruption, with global delays in shipments of some parts, and higher inflation were taking a toll on British Gas’ services arm. However, its UK gas and nuclear production business is doing well, and it has secured more supplies of gas from Norway and renewable energy, mainly wind and solar, from across Europe and within the UK.

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