British Gas is the largest energy and home services provider in the UK. It supplies gas and electricity to approximately 11 million homes and hundreds of thousands of businesses nationwide, as well as providing a number of other home service and products.
British Gas is the trading name of British Gas Services Limited and British Gas New Heating Limited, both of which are subsidiaries of Centrica. The company’s headquarters are located in Staines-upon-Thames, and it has several call centres in cities throughout the UK, including Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester and Leeds.
British Gas Services and Products
The main business of British Gas is the supply of gas and electricity to domestic and commercial properties throughout the UK. It offers both variable and fixed-rate monthly tariffs and prepayment meters. It aims to supply smart meters to all its customers by 2020.
The company also offers a number of other related services including boiler installation, plumbing and the servicing of electrical systems and appliances. In addition, it provides buildings and contents insurance, insurance for boilers and electrical appliances, and landlord insurance.
Further reading: Are british gas smart meters free?
British Gas was also responsible for developing the Hive app, which enables people to control their heating and hot water from their smartphones.
The History of British Gas
The origins of British Gas can be traced back to 1812, with the formation of the world’s first public utility company, the Gas Light and Coke Company, in the UK. The GLCC operated for 136 years, until the passing of the Gas Act 1948. This nationalised the gas industry, creating twelve Gas Boards for different areas of the UK. These were overseen by the Gas Council, which gradually gained more influence until the Gas Act 1972 merged all the Boards, and the British Gas Corporation was formed. Its leadership reported directly to the government.
The British Gas Corporation was privatised under the Gas Act 1986, making British Gas a public limited company. Since 1997 the Gas Sales and Gas Trading, Services and Retail arms of the business have been operated by Centrica, retaining the British Gas brand.
Further reading: Are British Gas boilers expensive?
The company has received criticism from Ofgem, the energy services regulator, for its aggressive and misleading marketing techniques, and in 2014 it agreed to pay compensation of £1 million to be distributed between customers who had switched to British Gas after being given exaggerated information by its marketers.
Charity and Community Work
British Gas works with several UK charities including Shelter, with whom it has been lobbying the government to improve the standard of rented accommodation. It also works with National Energy Action to raise awareness of ways in which people can use energy more efficiently.
In 2004 it established the British Gas Energy Trust, which provides grants to people in financial hardship to make sure they can afford energy for their homes.
Company Structure and Finances
British Gas employs approximately 30,000 people, including a network of over 10,000 engineers throughout the UK. The company’s direction and strategy are set out by the Board and implemented by the Chief Executive, who is supported by a team of several Executive Directors.
The company made a profit of £574 million in 2015, a 31 percent rise on the previous year. It attributed this to higher energy usage due to cooler weather.