British Gas’s Chris O’Shea receives a £4.5m pay package

British Gas’s Centrica owner paid £4.5 million to its boss last year, as its profits tripled to an unprecedented £3.3 billion.

Chris O’Shea’s 2021 pay package was five-fold higher than that of 2021 when he decided to forgo his annual bonus because it felt wrong to accept one when families were facing rising bills.

Despite rising bills and the scandal about British Gas installing prepayment meters in homes of customers, O’Shea accepted the £1.4million annual bonus Centrica’s pay commission awarded to O’Shea for “exceptional financial performances” in 2022.

He also received a £790,000 salary and a long-term bonus of £2.3 million.

Carol Arrowsmith, chair of Centrica’s remuneration board, praised O’Shea’s leadership qualities and drive. He also stated that it was impossible to expect to attract and keep leaders in the future without fulfilling our commitment to recognize and reward the talent and performance of our employees.

The committee found that the extraordinary financial performance in meeting the ambitious targets set for 2022 justifies a bonus payment.

Since 2020, O’Shea has been the leader of Centrica. He stated that he wasn’t motivated by money in an interview last year, describing it only as a “hygiene fact” and not “not coin-operated”.

After Russia’s invasion, Centrica posted record adjusted operating profits in 2022 of £3.3 billion. This was due to the soaring energy prices.

British Gas is Britain’s largest energy supplier, with 7.5million household customers, is the most well-known FTSE 100 company. This part of the company accounted for only 2 percent of the profits last year. The rest was driven by its oil and natural gas production and its energy trading arms.

Centrica was under intense scrutiny after an undercover investigation revealed that British Gas contractors were installing prepayment meters in vulnerable homes. This was not mentioned in the remuneration report of Centrica’s pay board.

O’Shea has apologized for the behavior revealed by the investigation in his annual report. It was disturbing to me to see how vulnerable customers were treated in our name. This is not how we should conduct business. We’ll get to the bottom and correct any mistakes.

Simon Francis, Coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, stated that “The bonuses of energy industry are built upon the suffering of millions of people who have seen their energy bills reach record highs this winter, despite government support.”

Energy firms may argue that domestic supply firm profits are low but it is the profits from producers and traders who are driving up prices for customers. Both of these areas are responsible for Centrica’s large profits.

“We urge all energy bosses and their employees to look at their conscience and donate bonuses to charities that work night and day to repair the damage they have done.”