CONSUMER groups called for immediate cuts in energy bills following the news that British Gas profits jumped by 58%.
Philip Cullum, deputy chief executive of Consumer Focus, said there were “no excuses” for not reducing tariffs and claimed the market needed “fundamental reform”.
The GMB union said the Government should intervene to help those struggling to pay.
The calls came after Centrica revealed its British Gas residential arm made profits of £595m last year – up 58% on 2008.
British Gas also said that it is recruiting staff in Yorkshire for a new insulation business to capitalise on a market expected to be worth £1.4bn by 2015.
The utility giant is hiring 100 staff across the region, with plans to roll out the service within a year.
It already offers loft and cavity wall insulation but only through external contractors and wants to bring the work in-house to capture a slice of the surge in demand.
Mr Cullum said: “Energy companies have no excuses for not cutting bills for their customers. It is clear the problems in the energy market are profound and that it requires fundamental reform.
“For consumers, a combination of high prices and cold weather has exacted a heavy cost.
“Energy companies have taken advantage this winter, while more than six million UK households live in fuel poverty and face a desperate struggle to keep warm.
“That British Gas has been the only major energy supplier to cut standard prices over the past seven months demonstrates a market largely devoid of competitive pressure.”
Energy companies seem not to care about providing value for money.”