Gas and electricity Updated:
SSE has reported a 9.6% rise in pre-tax profits in the year to 31 March, totalling £1.55bn – up from £1.4bn the previous tax year – which had largely been down to strong performance in its electricity transmission operations, said the firm.
The profit came despite the supplier losing 370,000 customers over the year, most of which were lost before the firm announced it was freezing prices in March. However, this price freeze came after it initially raised tariffs in November, with rising prices perhaps accounting for the increasing number of switchers.
"[The] announcement from SSE of yet another rise in profits will further fuel the heated debate over whether the UK energy market is really working for customers or just suppliers," said Mark Todd of independent price comparison site energyhelpline.com. "Curiously, SSE was the first to raise prices back in November by 8.2% and the last to cut them in late March following the tax reduction announced in December.
"Many customers will be asking themselves today where this profit increase came from, and could it be down to SSE being the first to raise prices and the last to drop them."
The news of a profit rise will no doubt be unwelcome to a lot of consumers, many of whom will be struggling to meet the cost of energy – even with recent price freezes. However, competition in the market is continuing to heat up, particularly from smaller, independent suppliers, which could put extra pressure on SSE.
"SSE customers are voting with their feet in their hundreds of thousands. 370,000 customers have left in the last year and when you compare their standard tariff to the cheapest on the market, it is no surprise," added Mark.
If you're not happy with the tariff or service you're currently receiving, it could be time to consider switching. Far more people are choosing to do so, with around 1 million customers having left big suppliers for smaller ones since the autumn energy price rises – with ¾ of those switching through energyhelpline.com choosing smaller companies.
Mark Todd concluded: "In a privatised market, the cold reality is that the primary objective for an energy supplier is to make profits, and as a customer you can only get a low price by switching.
"Switching tariffs can save people well over 20% on their bills. It only takes five minutes so don't take the gamble and wait."
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