CEO admission

Gas boss admits £4.5m pay is ‘impossible to justify’

Chris O’Shea, above, says his pay is too high when people struggle with bills

British Gas boss Chris O’Shea has admitted that he cannot justify his £4.5 million pay package when many of his customers are struggling to make ends meet.

The chief executive of FTSE 100 company Centrica, which trades as Scottish Gas north of the border, said his pay was a matter for other directors, but it was “a huge amount of money”.

In an interview with the BBC he said: “I am incredibly fortunate. I don’t set my own pay, that’s set by our remuneration committee.”

But he added: “I look at my mum who’s on the basic state pension, it’s just impossible to justify, so there’s no point in trying to do that”.

Andrew Speke, of the High Pay Centre, said: “It’s rare for a chief executives to admit their pay is too high, particularly when many FTSE CEOs are complaining that their pay is too low.

“Nevertheless, one would expect someone paid such a huge sum to show greater leadership and responsibility and actively to challenge the pay-setting process, rather than saying he doesn’t deserve it, before shrugging and accepting it anyway.”

Mr O’Shea’s pay package in 2022 was five times higher than in 2021, when he opted to forgo his annual bonus saying it felt “wrong” to accept one at a time when households were struggling with soaring bills.

In 2022 he took a bonus for the first time since being appointed to the top job in 2019.

The group reported record adjusted operating profits of £3.3 billion for 2022 after benefiting from soaring energy prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company is due to report financial results for last year next month.

It has set aside £100 million for a hardship fund, which has helped about 21,000 customers since 2021 by writing off up to £2,000 in debt.

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