British Gas owner Centrica has appointed former government minister Amber Rudd as a non-executive director.
The former Home Secretary also served as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change from 2015 to 2016 in David Cameron’s government during her decade as a Tory MP.
His hiring comes as the energy crisis deepens, with consumers bracing for a surge in household bills this spring and as tensions rise between government and suppliers over how to mitigate the impact of rising prices. wholesale prices on households.
Scott Wheway, president of Centrica, praised Rudd’s “wide range of expertise” and said she would bring a “wealth of hands-on energy experience” that would be “invaluable” to the company. She was energy secretary at the time of the Paris agreement on climate change concluded at Cop21 in 2015.
Centrica released the news of Rudd’s appointment just hours after the company’s chief executive, Chris O’Shea, said he was not interested in receiving a government bailout to help cut him the impact of soaring energy bills on consumers.
“There are reports that some energy companies want £ 20bn donation to cut household bills,” O’Shea wrote in an opinion piece published in the Sun newspaper. “Not British Gas. We haven’t asked for a bailout, we don’t want a bailout and we oppose any bailout.”
Consumers brace for an increase in what they pay for home energy in April, when the regulator revises its energy price cap, a move that many say will lead to an increase in average annual bills of up to £ 700.
The increase would bring the annual cost of electricity and gas to households off a supplier’s default tariff to £ 2,000 from £ 1,300 now.
After the collapse of 26 UK energy companies in 2021, O’Shea insisted that “energy suppliers must pass on the higher wholesale costs to survive.” But he suggested the government could help consumers in other ways, such as reducing VAT on energy bills or removing environmental taxes from bills.
He calculated that the VAT cut would reduce £ 100 on the average annual bill, although such a move was rejected by Boris Johnson.
O’Shea also suggested the government should fund environmental and social levies through general taxation instead of household bills, which he said would reduce the average annual total by £ 170.
Rudd will join Centrica’s board of directors on January 10 and will also become a member of the company’s safety, environment and sustainability committee, as well as its compensation committee.
This is not Rudd’s first role in the private sector. She joined the ranks of former ministers in often lucrative private sector jobs after government when she was hired as senior advisor to Cambridge-based cybersecurity firm Darktrace in May 2020, just as it was preparing for its IPO