Belfast Telegraph

Tory policy on energy market 'concerning' says Centrica chief

Theresa May's plans for a cap on energy prices indicate that people "at the heart of Government" do not believe in free markets, according to the boss of British Gas owner Centrica.

Iain Conn said the Tory policy was "concerning" at a time when the UK was meant to be pushing for post-Brexit trade deals.

He suggested the Conservative plans could have "unintended consequences" and claimed standard tariffs were "misunderstood".

The Tory manifesto is expected to include a promise to cut around £100 from energy bills by capping prices for the seven out of 10 households on standard variable tariffs.

Centrica chief executive Mr Conn told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm absolutely for competition, choice, different products, and we believe very strongly that there are different ways to intervene in the market.

"I'm the first to admit that governments and regulators do have to set the conditions within which markets operate.

"But clearly there are ways of doing this. I think there are some at the heart of the Government who just don't believe in free markets.

"I find that concerning at a time when this market is highly competitive and the UK is seeking to forge a new future relying on free trade with the rest of the world."

He also questioned how the reported £100 figure had been reached.

"Our average, after tax, margin is £52 per customer. So if this heralded £100 was to come into effect we would absolutely be losing money," he said.

"So the question is, what do we do about this? Clearly we are going to have to address our costs and look at service."