British Gas planning regional policy

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Centrica, parent company of British Gas, says that it is considering implementing a regional pricing policy.

The group's chief executive Sam Laidlaw made the revelation yesterday, indicating that a regional differentiation programme could be in place by the end of the year.

The strategy will form part of Centrica's continuing efforts to attract more customers from its rivals, The Times newspaper reports, quoting Mr Laidlaw as saying that such a policy would "ensure that we are more competitive anywhere we want to capture customers".

At present ScottishPower is the only supplier to use regional pricing for gas, with Scottish customers currently paying £60 less for their supplies than those in north-west England. But the top six electricity suppliers in the UK have all used regional pricing policies since the market was opened up in 1996.

Customers in some parts of the country currently pay up to £100 more for their electricity, simply because they live in an uncompetitive area.

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