Stories like this remind me of my old Livesey A level economics primer and its warning about the effects of oligopoly or even “super-oligopoly”. Too many crucial services in our post, post war consensus society are too big to fail as this story proves – and we wonder why parts of rural England are assailed by fuel poverty?

Energy firm SSE has reignited the debate over the state of Britain’s energy sector by posting a 9.6% surge in profits for the last financial year.

SSE, one of Britain’s “Big Six” suppliers, made pre-tax profits of£1.55bn for the year to 31 March compared with £1.4bn a year earlier.

Operating profits at its wholesale division jumped almost 25%, while retail operating profits actually fell by 28.6%.

SSE blamed the “relatively mild winter in 2013/14” for its fall in retail profits; temperatures were warmer, and snowfalls were largely confined to the Scottish mountains.

But the company, which recently froze its prices until 2016, also shed around 370,000 customers last year. The total number of accounts fell to 9.1 million, from 9.47 million a year ago.


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