Britain’s third-largest energy supplier, which sparked outrage after advising households to save on their heating bills this winter by ‘petting’ their pets, is said to be cutting a quarter of its workforce amid a growing gas crisis.
Ovo Energy will reportedly lay off about 1,700 out of 6,200 roles as part of a voluntary redundancy program in an effort to save costs.
The energy company is said to have plans to close several locations across the country to focus on London, Glasgow and Bristol, but it will open a new academy in Glasgow, a source told Sky News.
Ovo’s announcement will also include a promise to increase the minimum wage across the company to £ 12 an hour as well as ‘resending’ all customer-facing jobs to the UK, the source said.
The development comes during a difficult week for Ovo, after the company was criticized for sending an email to its customers, in which they recommended that they can save on the heating bill this winter per. ‘cuddle’ their pet, ‘clean’ or ‘make a few star jumps’.
Ovo Energy sent an email to customers on Monday with ten ‘simple and cost-effective ways to keep warm this winter’. They included having a ‘name with your pets and loved ones to keep it cozy’, eating ‘hearty bowls of porridge’, sticking to ‘non-alcoholic beverages’ and eating ginger – but not chili,’ as it makes you to sweat’
Ovo Energy sent an email to customers on Monday with ten ‘simple and cost-effective ways to keep warm this winter’
Stephen Fitzpatrick, the head of the £ 675 million energy supplier, later apologized for the email, declaring: ‘Someone had a bad day’.
Sir. Fitzpatrick did not reveal whether the person writing the email had been fired, but admitted that their proposal had been ‘disturbing and embarrassing’.
The energy bills for millions of households are expected to rise by more than 50 pet cents in April to £ 2,000 a year when the UK energy price ceiling is adjusted.
MailOnline revealed earlier this week that Mr Fitzpatrick is enjoying a sprawling, five-bedroom weekend home in the heart of the picturesque Cotswolds close to Cirencester, which is worth £ 3.2 million and costs as much as £ 850 a month to power.
Sir. Fitzpatrick bought the former rectory, which boasts a swimming pool, six bedrooms and four bathrooms, for £ 2.9 million in 2019.
His business is in the firing line after offering ‘simple and cost-effective ways’ to help keep its customers warm through the winter, apart from turning on the heat, including giving a cat ‘a cuddle’, eating ‘hearty bowls of porridge’ and stick to ‘alcoholic beverages’.
Other suggestions in the email sent out to customers at SSE Energy Services, a gas and electricity trading company that was acquired by Ovo in 2020, suggested eating ginger – but not chili, ‘as it makes you sweat’ . Or try ‘cleaning the house’, having a family ‘hula hoop competition’ or ‘making a few star jumps’.
Belfast-born Mr Fitzpatrick told the BBC: ‘I would like to start by apologizing again. It’s sadly like we’re a big company and someone had a bad day, they sent an email and we should have caught it. It’s an email that should never have been written.
‘I think it was meant with good intentions, but it’s the kind of email that causes a lot of disruption. No one takes the situation facing British customers more seriously than I do, so it’s really outrageous and embarrassing. ‘
Asked if he was concerned that the company’s reputation had been badly hurt, he said: ‘I hope the British public will understand that not everyone gets it right all the time’
“We’ve spent five or six years investing tens of millions of pounds in technologies that can help customers lower their carbon footprint, save energy and save money, so it’s really ironic that we’re also the company that sends “these ridiculous emails out advising people to eat. porridge and not drink wine. It’s just embarrassing and I hope we’ve been aware of how we’ve handled this.”
Stephen Fitzpatrick founded Ovo Energy in 2009 and admits that the email sent to customers was humiliating for the company, which has given him £ 675 million
Ovo Energy chief Stephen Fitzpatrick owns this sprawling five-bedroom house in the Cotswolds that has its own swimming pool and is now worth around £ 3.2 million.
Which energy suppliers have gone bankrupt so far
- Enticing energy
- Orbit Energy Limited
- Neon Energy Limited
- Social Energy Supply Ltd
- CNG energy
- Omni Energy Limited
- MA Energy Limited
- Zebra Power Limited
- Ampoweruk Ltd
- Bluegreen Energy Services Limited
- GOTO Energy Limited
- Daligas Limited
- Pure Planet
- Colorado energy
- Igloo energy
- Symbio energy
- Avro energy
- Green Supplier Limited
- Utility Point
- The energy of the people
- PFP energy
- MoneyPlus Energy
Sir. Fitzpatrick, who was dubbed a disruptor to the UK energy market when he founded Ovo in 2009, has made him one of the country’s richest people.
MPs described his company’s advice as ‘insulting’ and ‘offensive’, as the British are facing a devastating cost of living crisis with a government figure describing the proposal to eat porridge and exclude alcohol as ‘like some Dickens nightmare’.
The email was sent to customers at SSE Energy Services, which was acquired by Ovo in 2020.
That comes as energy bills for millions of households are set to rise by more than 50 percent in April.
Rishi Sunak is under growing pressure among Tory backers to tackle the energy crisis, after Boris Johnson said he ‘constantly’ meets with the chancellor to discuss rising energy bills.
Charities have warned that rising energy prices could throw millions more households into ‘fuel poverty’.
It comes as official figures suggest that inflation could rise to its highest level in more than 30 years in 2022 if ministers choose not to place any controls on rising energy bills in April.
The government’s projections are thought to warn that steep increases in consumer energy costs could cause inflation to rise by a further two percentage points in the spring.
Financing firm Goldman Sachs gave a similar condemnatory picture when they warned that increased fuel bills could cause inflation to hit 6.8 percent in April.
Experts have warned that the recent pressure could be even worse than the credit crunch 14 years ago, thanks to a toxic combination of price increases, the looming increase in social security and over a million people being drawn into the higher tax rate.
Britain privatized British Gas in 1986, and after a series of deregulation steps since then, the consumer market has seen a host of different companies – some basically just retailers – offer gas and electricity to households.
Many of these companies have now gone bankrupt, caught between a government-imposed price cap, which limits what companies can charge consumers, and the wholesale price of natural gas. The next review of the price cap is to be announced on February 7th.
This comes after industry executives warned that a taxpayer-backed support package for energy-intensive businesses hit by the rise might just be a “stingy sticker”.
Boris Johnson reportedly supports a plan being developed by Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng for government loans to companies threatened with closure over the winter.
Energy bills crisis Q&A
How much do green taxes add to bills?
Latest figures from the energy watchdog Ofgem show that 25.48 percent of the electricity bills in August 2021 went on ‘environmental and social obligations’. On gas bills, it was just 2.46 per cent. The average household’s dual fuel bill was at £ 1,184 in 2020, according to Ofgem, with £ 182 on green taxes.
Who gets the money?
Mainly the government – to pay for ‘environmental and social schemes’. These range from the warm home rebate, which provides a £ 140 rebate each year to poor retirees, to feed-in tariffs, which pay homeowners for the energy they generate using eco-technology such as solar panels.
Who brought them in?
Some were introduced under Labor, but tariffs skyrocketed under the coalition government. David Cameron then reportedly told ministers they should “get rid of all the green shit”. Green tariffs will also start paying for a £ 450 million scheme for heat pumps to replace gas boilers.
Are green taxes still necessary?
Certainly not – because the cost of supplying renewable energy has dropped so much. It is also argued that phasing out gas boilers should wait until the replacements are better and cheaper.
Is there another way to raise money?
Shifting the burden to general taxation is an option. The wealthy would then pay more, instead of everyone wanting to pay the same through energy bills.