£16m pay bonanza for five British Gas bosses: Windfall came just weeks after inflation-busting price increases

It’s a bit like the bankers – they steal a load of public money in bailouts and keep it all for themselves…

Via the Daily Mail:

  • Chief executive Sam Laidlaw is handed £5million

  • Figures emerge in Centrica’s annual report showing British Gas made £606million profit

  • Ofgem predict the average gas and electricity bill will rise to £1,420 by end of next year

Five bosses at British Gas owner Centrica shared a £16.4million pay bonanza last year as bills soared for domestic customers.

Just weeks after householders were told their bills would jump by £70 a year, the directors enjoyed a 6 per cent rise in their pay packages.

Last night unions said the payouts, coming after inflation-busting price rises, were ‘insensitive beyond belief’.

In addition, British Gas chief Phil Bentley will walk away with a nest-egg worth more than £10million when he steps down in June, in addition to a £5.4million pension pot.

Money to burn: the five top directors at British Gas shared a £16.4million payout for last year while average household energy prices increased 6 per cent.

Mr Bentley saw his annual pay package jump 50 per cent to £3million, from £2million, as profits at parent company Centrica rose 14 per cent to £2.7billion. The British Gas residential arm made £660million.

The rewards come at the worst possible time for British Gas’s 16million customers, who are facing record energy bills to keep warm.

They have been forced to turn up their heating in the coldest spring for decades, and have been hit with a 6 per cent rise of around £100 each over the past few months.

The average dual fuel bill for 2012 was £1,188 and customers have seen their prices double over the last seven years.

A total of 2.5million families are estimated to live in ‘fuel poverty’, which means they have to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on their energy bill.

Details of the pay rewards released yesterday show that Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw received a near £5million pay package comprising £950,000 basic pay, a £1million cash and shares bonus, and a £2.6million longer term incentive. He and his top team share £16.4million.

Mr Bentley will step down in June following a management overhaul. Sources within the firm suggest he may have fallen out with Mr Laidlaw over strategic direction.

Sitting pretty: Centrica chief Sam LaidlawSitting pretty: Centrica chief Sam Laidlaw

He stands to walk away with a fortune accumulated over the past 13 years within Centrica.

He owns shares worth £8.1million, using a price of 365p a share, which he either bought with his own cash or which have been given to him in reward packages.

He also stands to benefit from shares linked to future performance that could be worth £2.3million if 60 per cent of targets are reached over the next three years, or £4.1million if 100 per cent is reached.

If the £5.4million pension pot is included, Mr Bentley could walk away with as much as £17.6million in June, on top of last year’s £3million pay package.

Even that is not all – the firm is keeping him on as a consultant until the end of the year, giving him an extra £315,000 in pay.

The huge rewards were widely condemned yesterday.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called on the Government to introduce an immediate cap on excessive executive pay, saying it was ‘an insult to millions of working people living through the worst recession in a generation and the worst March weather in 50 years’.

Mr McCluskey said the groundswell of anger at this ‘latest abuse by an almost monopoly industry’ demands immediate action.

‘Enough is enough,’ he said.

‘This excessive greed which sees casino bankers and the corporate elite running British business pocket millions, while working people struggle to pay their soaring household bills, must stop.

‘As Britain goes through the worst March weather in half a century, the sun shines brightly on Centrica’s bosses while those struggling to pay the bills shiver.’

Controversy is raging over the impact on consumer bills of green measures.Controversy is raging over the impact on consumer bills of green measures.

Gary Smith, national officer of the GMB, the union which represents gas workers, said: ‘We condemn these salaries, paid from the budgets of hard-pressed households.

‘It is obscene and is the straw that could break the back of corporate excess.’

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said: ‘British Gas customers will be astonished at these bumper pay-outs.

‘When hard-pressed families have seen their bills go up by £100 this winter there are serious questions about how they can justify paying millions to their executives.’

Before the winter all the big six energy providers – British Gas, EDF, SSE, Eon, Npower and Scottish Power – announced big tariff increases.

Another rise of up to 5 per cent is expected this year, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility, the Government’s independent forecasting body.

The increase of around £70 would push the average bill across the industry to £1,420 a year.

Centrica was formed in 1997 and is among the 30 largest British companies on the London Stock Exchange. It controls British Gas in the UK and operates in America.

A spokesman said: ‘At Centrica, pay and bonuses are based squarely on performance.

‘In 2012, we delivered another year of consistent earnings growth and invested £2.7billion to secure energy supplies for our customers, as we continued to improve service levels both in the UK and North America.

‘In the current climate there is understandably a wider debate in society about pay differentials. We are focused at Centrica on ensuring that pay and bonuses are fair and that we are clear in explaining our remuneration.’

Shopping around: The best fixed-rate plans are cheaper than all the big six suppliers¿ standard deals Shopping around: The best fixed-rate plans are cheaper than all the big six suppliers’ standard deals


One response to “£16m pay bonanza for five British Gas bosses: Windfall came just weeks after inflation-busting price increases

  1. tell me again how wind and solar energy is a waste of time and money…

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