Founded in 1812, British Gas was the first public utility company in the world until the Thatcher administration privatized it in 1986. The company is still in the business of selling fossil fuel derived gas to consumers, but through clever marketing techniques like carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates, it can make the claim to be fossil fuel free. It has been accused of greenwashing on numerous occasions, in one case being forced to withdraw an advertisement claiming to offer the “greenest domestic energy tariff”, and in another being fined by the UK’s energy watchdog Ofgem for failing to meet energy efficiency targets in time.
Gas, electricity, boilers and boiler cover.
British Gas was profiled as part of the report "Green" Multinationals Exposed: How the Energy Transition is Being Hijacked by Corporate Interests.
|TOP OFFENSE GROUPS||PENALTY TOTAL||NUMBER OF RECORDS|
|energy market-related offenses||£16,600,000||4|
|consumer protection-related offenses||£25,411,294||9|
|labour standards-related offenses||£92,719||3|
(November 13, 2023)
- The British Gas Fire by Hazel Nolan (2021)
- Congress 2021: CEC Special Report on Energy and the Environment by GMB Union (2021)
- Renewable energy in Europe: An analysis of how UK energy suppliers use Guarantees of Origin certificates by Good Energy (2020)
- The Ratio Common Sense Controls For Executive Pay And Revitalising UK Business by New Economics Foundation (2011)
- The Shirts Off Their Backs: How tax policies fleece the poor by Christian Aid (2005)
Pratap Chatterjee | CorpWatch | December 28, 2005
Petrobras of Brazil, Repsol YPF of Spain, the French Total, British Gas & British Petroleum and scores of others among them the Royal Dutch Shell have been granted broad access to Bolivia's resources only to take most of the profits home.
Other Key Sources
- Business and Human Rights Resource Centre's profile on British Gas - UK-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre is an NGO that employs researchers on five continents who work with activists, companies and governments alike to advance human rights in business by eradicating abuse.
- We Own It's profile on British Gas - We Own It is a UK-based NGO that campaigns against privatization and for the public ownership of services like energy, health, schools and water.
GMB Union | November 9, 2023
GMB, the energy union, is to launch an official British Gas strike ballot after the company refused to withdraw its threat to fire and rehire 20,000 workers.
Hannah Davenport | Left Foot Forward | June 20, 2023
Campaigners will target the Future of Utilities summit taking place this afternoon, which will see representatives from Centrica, the owner of British Gas, National Grid, Scottish Power, Shell and UK Power Networks.
Jason Moore | UK Daily News | February 10, 2023
Now the action group Power To The People, which has been campaigning against the forced installation of prepaid meters since the summer of 2022, is calling for people to appear in front of Arvato’s office to “send a message to everyone who benefits from poverty”.
Anoosh Chakelian, Emma Haslett and Phil Clarke Hill | The New Statesman | September 2, 2022
At Don’t Pay’s rally outside the energy regulator Ofgem’s offices on 26 August, when the latest energy cap rise was announced, wealthy professionals and retired homeowners joined young activists in the glass and steel jungle of Canary Wharf, chanting: “Freeze profits, not people!” and “Bill hike? Pay strike!”
John Shafthauer | The Canary | August 14, 2022
"Energy bills are set to soar to over £5000 next year meanwhile: British Gas: £1.3 billion profit between January & June. BP: £6.95 billion profit between April and June alone. Shell: £9.4 billion profit in a year. It's not a money problem; it's a corporate greed problem."
Voice Wales | February 20, 2022
People marched from the Betty Campbell statue near Central Station, along St Mary St and onto the offices of British Gas, demanding immediate price caps on energy bills and other costs of living.
GMB Union | April 12, 2021
GMB members at British Gas have already taken 42 days of strike action against the imposition of the 15% cuts in pay rates and other changes via “fire and rehire” notices.
Jonathan Walker | Birmingham Mail | February 4, 2020
The petition was launched by Birmingham MP Preet Kaur Gill (Lab Edgbaston), who said the decision "will invariably mean that many parents will have to make a choice between food and fuel."
Extinction Rebellion | May 13, 2019
Join Fuel Poverty Action to put the spotlight on Centrica, a multinational company that owns British Gas – whose investments provide the financial lifeline that allows Cuadrilla to continue its attempts to frack the Lancashire countryside, while driving up fuel prices and pushing people into fuel poverty.
Kiran Stacey | Financial Times | April 18, 2016
Centrica suffered a significant protest from shareholders over its decision to pay £3m to Iain Conn for 2015, his first year as chief executive of the group. The British Gas owner said 15 per cent of votes cast by 72 per cent of large shareholders ahead of the annual meeting went against the pay deal.
Occupy London | May 6, 2014
As shareholders and owners of British Gas discuss how to make a killing whilst pushing millions into poverty, Fuel Poverty Action will be holding a demonstration on Monday May 12th to say it’s time to end business as usual and put people and planet first.
Pete Hughes | Oxford Mail | November 26, 2013
Protesters say that the firm’s 10 per cent price increases, announced earlier this month, are “crippling”, on top of an 8 per cent increase in 2012 and a 16 per cent increase in 2011. Last year the firm took more than £600m in profits, £11m of which was paid in bonuses to chief executives. (Similar protests by fuel poverty groups were held in previous years.)
- Cardiff People's Assembly
- Don't Pay
- Energy Watch
- Enough Is Enough
- European Public Service Union (EPSU)
- Extinction Rebellion
- Fabian Society
- Fuel Poverty Action
- GMB Union
- National Shop Stewards Network
- New Economics Foundation (NEF)
- Reclaim the Power
- Unite the Union
- We Own It
Yuri Prasad | Socialist Worker | May 30, 2022
Big investors hoovered up most of the shares at knockdown prices and then trousered the profits. In the first 12 years after privatisation British Gas shares increased in value by over 12 times.
Laurie Macfarlane | openDemocracy | September 23, 2021
Following the privatisation of the gas and electricity sectors by the Thatcher-led government in the 1980s, the newly profit-hungry energy companies embarked on a ‘dash for gas’ – transitioning the British electricity generation away from coal towards modern gas-fired power plants, fuelled by newly discovered cheap gas supplies in the North Sea.
Cat Hobbs | Tribune Mag | January 9, 2021
The privatisation of British Gas has led to attacks on workers' rights and a bad deal for consumers – essential services like energy supply should be owned and run in the public interest, not for corporate profit.
Adam Vaughan | The Guardian | March 23, 2017
Centrica chief executive Iain Conn’s remuneration jumped from £3.02m in 2015 to £4.15m in 2016, enough to pay the heating and lighting bills for nearly 4,000 customers on the company’s standard tariff.
James Tapper | The Guardian | March 12, 2017
Privatisation was meant to cut costs by allowing us to switch suppliers. Instead, most have stuck with the same rip-off firms... So energy companies have little incentive to give the sticky 66% a good deal, which results in “excessive prices” generating about £2bn a year for the big six – British Gas, Scottish Power, EDF, SSE, Npower and E.ON – according to a landmark report by the Competition and Markets Authority last year.
Paul Morgan-Bentley | The Times | February 1, 2023
British Gas routinely sends debt collectors to break into customers’ homes and force-fit pay-as-you-go meters, even when they are known to have extreme vulnerabilities, a Times investigation can reveal.
Pip Cook | Express | May 9, 2022
A survey of 41,000 people by Money Saving Expert found that at least 30 percent of British Gas, Octopus and Shell Energy customers claimed to have seen their direct debits double after the energy price cap increases.
Callum Jones | The Times | August 28, 2020
Britain’s biggest energy supplier has agreed to pay out £1.73 million after failing to inform hundreds of thousands of customers that it had changed their top-up payment provider. British Gas will avoid a fine from the energy regulator as it compensates those affected.
BBC | August 29, 2018
British Gas has paid £2.65m in refunds, compensation and redress after wrongly overcharging more than 94,000 customers who switched to new providers.
The Guardian | July 20, 2017
British Gas is to pay £1.1m to compensate customers after its agents missed appointments, breaching industry standards.
Liam Stoker | Current News | December 7, 2016
The business electricity supply arm of British gas failed to fit some meters by the April 2014 deadline, five years after the government launched its meter roll-out scheme.
Tim Webb and Alex Ralph | The Times | July 4, 2014
The regulator said that British Gas sales staff told customers that they would save money by switching to Britain’s biggest supplier, or its partner Sainsbury’s Energy when, in fact, they would be worse off.
La Prensa | March 5, 2014
The Supreme Court of the United States decided that Argentina must pay British Gas US$185.3 million for the patrimonial damages caused after the tariff freeze in 2002, according to reports by international agencies.
ITV | April 10, 2014
British Gas will pay £5.6m after being found to have wrongly blocked businesses from switching to new suppliers. The energy giant's computers and practices "failed customers", regulator Ofgem said. Some small businesses were the worst hit by the practices.
UK: British Gas using millions of pounds of credit from ex-customers to boost profits, claims whistleblower - as Ofgem prepares to take on the Big Six
This is Money | October 27, 2013
The energy provider has taken £20m from customers with outstanding credit on their accounts and poured it into its annual accounts over the last year, The Observer said.
Jill Insley | The Guardian | July 27, 2011
The energy company has been fined £2.5m by Ofgem for failing to deal properly with customer complaints. The fine follows a year-long investigation into the company which found it breached regulations on how energy companies should handle disputes.
G1 | September 30, 2007
The British Gas company was fined US$105,000 by the Ministry of Biodiversity, Forestry Resources and the Environment for failing to comply with the environmental law in Bolivia, the ABI news agency reported on Sunday.
Ben Webster | openDemocracy | September 12, 2023
‘Heating sales advisers’ for the company were recorded claiming that hydrogen fuel will be rolled out across the UK and that boilers sold now are capable of burning hydrogen instead of gas – neither of which is yet established.
Paul Dobson | The Ferret | August 20, 2023
The multinational owner of Scottish rugby’s new “green” sponsor drills for oil and gas and has backed fracking, prompting accusations of greenwashing. Scottish Rugby and Scottish Gas — which is the trading name of British Gas north of the border–- announced a five year partnership in July which saw the national rugby stadium rebranded as “Scottish Gas Murrayfield”.
Lucas Amin & Martin Williams | openDemocracy | September 30, 2022
The energy giant claims to reduce its climate footprint by using “carbon credits”, which pump money into environmental work abroad. But our investigation found that almost half the carbon offsets held by British Gas owner Centrica are “junk credits” that were issued under a discredited scheme that critics have called a “scam”.
Adam Barnett | DeSmog | September 13, 2022
Gas companies are misleading the British public by marketing “hydrogen ready” boilers as a climate-friendly alternative despite widespread doubts the technology will help curb emissions, according to a new report. Analysis published today by Global Witness finds that brands including British Gas and Worcester Bosch are portraying “hydrogen blend” boilers as a green way to heat homes.
Ecotricity | February 2, 2022
Puppies and adult dogs (typically aged 5) that are deemed unsuitable for hunting are shot and thrown in bins that are taken to power stations... The resulting electricity is being supplied to homes and businesses by several providers – including British Gas and Eon.
UK: 'Tired, tacky greenwashing': British Gas criticised for careless simplification of climate crisis
Marthe de Ferrer | EuroNews | March 10, 2021
Energy company British Gas is under fire after releasing a series of controversial adverts to promote its new ‘green’ tariffs. One post on social media shows a man cycling with a mattress strapped to his back, with the words “Bike it, EVERYWHERE - or all our electricity tariffs are zero carbon to help you do your bit.”
Ian McKee | Good Energy | October 9, 2020
British Gas, the UK’s largest energy company, is the largest greenwasher – purchasing 20 million certificates. This is twice as many as anyone else and accounted for 35% of the entire market for the past year. Doing so allows British Gas to say its tariff is renewable, even though they haven’t bought this renewable power in Britain.
Molly Lempriere | Current News | January 29, 2020
Companies like Good Energy have vocally criticised REGOs, calling them “loopholes” that reduce transparency for customers.
John Harrington | Proactive Investors | December 4, 2014
British Gas has been hit with an £11.1mln fine by industry regulator Ofgem. The business, owned by Footsie stalwart Centrica (LON:CNA), was fined because it failed to meet energy efficiency targets in time.
Money Maxim | July 5, 2011
Energy giant British Gas has been found guilty of supplying inaccurate information about the amount of electricity provided under the government's Renewables Obligation.
Advertising Standards Authority | January 30, 2008
Because the data from across all of the categories in the table did not prove that British Gas' Zero Carbon tariff provided an overall improvement in environmental terms against the other tariffs in the table, and because that data was not audited by an independent authority, we concluded that on this point the ad was misleading. (British Gas has had to withdraw ads on several occasions due to misleading claims.)
Alexander Smith | The New Scientist | July 6, 1991
Environmental campaigners occupied the offices of British Gas in Quito last week in protest at the company’s activities in the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador.
UK: British Gas bumper profits cost customers extra £66 each – as Ofgem criticised over energy price cap
Cahal Milmo & Alannah Francis | iNews | July 27, 2023
British Gas revealed a 900 per cent increase in profits to £969m for the first six months of 2023 after the regulator maintained the price cap on domestic energy bills at a level to allow energy supply companies to make more money.
BBC | March 22, 2023
The boss of British Gas-owner Centrica will receive bonuses worth £3.7m after the firm posted record profits in 2022. Chris O'Shea, who has refused bonuses for the past three years, will also get a £790,000 salary. It comes as millions struggle to pay energy bills and after debt agents for the firm broke into vulnerable people's homes to fit prepayment meters.
Olivia Rudgard, Emma Gatten, and Bill Gardner | The Telegraph | February 4, 2022
Customers have been left without heating and hot water as a cold snap approaches this weekend, with heavy snowfall and temperatures expected to drop to as low as 21.2F (-6C).
Middle East Monitor | January 18, 2022
Pension money for staff at the energy company, British Gas, was used for buying shares in the Israeli spyware developer, NSO Group, which was responsible for the hacking of tens of thousands of people's devices over the years, a report has revealed.
GMB Union | January 11, 2021
A leaked video which shows a British Gas boss celebrating the covid crisis for keeping the strike out of the news has come to light.
GMB Union | June 11, 2020
GMB Union says British Gas is trying to cut its way out of a crisis of its own historical making after announcing another 5,000 job cuts before the end of the year.
UK: British Gas ups electricity prices by 12.5 per cent for millions of customers – despite FALLING costs
Tara Evans | The Sun | August 1, 2017
British Gas is hiking electricity bills for millions of customers by 12.5 per cent - and has wrongly blamed rising costs. It means a household on a standard dual fuel tariff will face paying £76 more a year, an increase of 7.3 per cent.
Terry Macalister | The Guardian | February 16, 2014
Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has come under fire from fuel poverty campaigners before announcing profits of almost £3bn this week. (British Gas has come under fire multiple times over the years for its high profits and executive pay amid widespread fuel poverty.)
Miles Brignall | The Guardian | March 11, 2006
Homecare insurance guarantees a speedy response if your boiler breaks down. But leaked documents seen by Guardian Money reveal how the British Gas cover has fallen into chaos, often leaving vulnerable customers waiting days in freezing conditions for the repair man to arrive.
BBC | March 10, 2010
Staff at British Gas will be asked to vote in a strike ballot over alleged bullying by management, and on changes to staff terms and conditions. The GMB trade union said its membership among gas engineers and other staff would be taking part in the ballot in the next few weeks.
David Leigh | The Guardian | June 2, 2005
Equatorial Guinea is one of the key targets of the west's new "scramble for Africa"... (British Gas) is buying up nearly 60m tonnes of liquefied natural gas - the entire planned output for 17 years of Equatorial Guinea's new LNG plant - an amount that is worth about $15bn at today's prices.
Dan Thomas | Personnel Today | December 19, 2005
A series of strikes planned by British Gas engineers have been called off, after parent company Centrica agreed a deal with the GMB union.
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British Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centrica.
Joey Grostern & Sam Bright | DeSmog | September 22, 2023
A number of oil and gas firms have been announced as the hosts of stands and events at this year’s Conservative Party conference. The conference, which is being held from 1 to 4 October in Manchester, will play host to the likes of BP, British Gas’ parent company Centrica, petrochemical giant Valero, and Drax – the UK’s largest CO2 emitter.
Adam Barnett & Sam Bright | DeSmog | June 29, 2023
Since 2016, Policy Exchange has hosted events at the Conservative Party conference sponsored by energy companies and trade groups including: wood-burning bioenergy firm Drax, gas and electricity supplier E.on, British Gas parent company Centrica, the gas and electricity industry body Energy Networks Association, gas generation company Cadent Gas, trade association Hydrogen UK, and the Sizewell C nuclear plant.
Adam Bychawski | Open Democracy | August 26, 2022
Among those given key roles in energy policy are a former British Gas director who is now responsible for setting the energy price cap at Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, and a non-executive director at the business department who remains a board chairman at energy giant BP.
UK: Energy bills: British Gas’ 10% profit rebate called ‘tokenistic philanthropy’ as owner Centrica’s profits hit £1.3bn in six months
Ethan Stone | National World Domain B | August 25, 2022
British Gas’ decision to donate 10% of its profits to customers who are struggling with rising energy costs has been described as ‘tokenistic philanthropy’ and prompted further calls for nationalisation of energy firms.
Domain B | June 21, 2017
British Gas parent company Centrica has agreed to sell its two biggest gas-fired power plants to EP UK Investments (EPUK) for £318 million, as it looks to become a nimbler energy supplier in a fiercely competitive market.
CorpWatch is still gathering procurement data on British Gas at this time.