WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Centrica hints at raised gas prices

Centrica's 'management statement' set off a 'storm of protest' (The Times, 13 May) by issuing a strong signal that domestic gas prices will rise again this year and that the other energy suppliers would follow Centrica's lead.

Tim Wolfenden of price comparison site uSwitch.com warned: 'The situation is looking pretty drastic for customers... (but) is not exclusive to British Gas' (The Guardian, 13 May).

Centrica's announcement explained that the company would 'take the necessary action to deliver reasonable profit margins' (ITV.com, 12 May).

BBC business editor Robert Peston broke the story that Centrica may have persuaded the Treasury to include a shares-plus-cash option for the sale of nuclear supplier British Energy, so it could have 'a stable power source to protect its margins when wholesale prices are volatile' (BBC, 12 May).

Elsewhere consumer watchdog Age Concern said 'vulnerable older people will yet again have to make difficult choices between paying for food and paying for fuel' (Daily Record, 13 May).

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.


WHAT THE BLOGS SAY: Centrica Leads on More Price Rises

Like much of the press, the blogosphere was outraged by Centrica's announcement of impending price increases.  Many bloggers cited uSwitch.com's prediction that other suppliers would soon follow suit, and discussed the issue in the context of the broader economic downturn. 

Threads on finance-related forums tended to focus on the effect that the move would have on the Consumer Price Index, and subsequently on the chances of a cut in interest rates.

There was little mention of the fact that the full wholesale price increase won't be passed on to customers; bloggers seemed more interested in the company's £571m profit last year. 

In the few discussions where lower profit margins were mentioned, the general expectation was that prices would continue to rise next year as well, and that energy companies would eventually recover their margins while consumers would be considerably worse off.

The issue was quite emotive, with the plight of pensioners inevitably attracting particular attention.  A wide range of bloggers commented, including young mothers, finance professionals and pensioners, as well as the usual roundup of activists and conspiracy-theorists. 

Some felt that privatization was to blame, while others cited insecurity over gas and oil supplies.  Whatever their view of the causes, all agreed that there are difficult times ahead.

Analysis conducted by Nielsen Online from a source of over 70 million blogs www.nielsen-online.com




Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in