British Gas to end use of 3,500 overseas call centre staff and move jobs to UK, CEO pledges

The parent firm of British Gas has promised to end the use of overseas call centre staff and move the roles back into the UK.

Chris O’Shea, the CEO of energy giant Centrica, told the company’s AGM in Leeds yesterday that it currently uses around 3,500 staff in call centres outside the UK, with around 2,000 customer service workers already in this country and a further 500 in the process of being recruited.

He said: “I have made a commitment that we will move all of those off-shore jobs on-shore. It will take time.

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"Over the next few years we plan to have all our customer contacts for the UK customers within the UK and our customer contacts for Irish customers in Ireland. That’s what our customers want.”

Centrica CEO Chris O'Shea addresses the AGM in LeedsCentrica CEO Chris O'Shea addresses the AGM in Leeds
Centrica CEO Chris O'Shea addresses the AGM in Leeds

Mr O’Shea did not put a timeframe on when the change will happen.

Part of the reason for the AGM being held in Leeds was that the company already employs around 1,000 people locally – mainly in customer service and British Gas engineer roles.

Chairman Scott Wheway said prior to Mr O’Shea’s remarks: “Broadly our attitude is that on-shore customer service is the direction we should travel in.”

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Mr Wheway admitted earlier in the meeting that there have been customer service challenges for the company in recent years but said improvements are taking place.

He said: “Customer service across the last two years as a consequence of coming through Covid and going through the energy crisis has been a very challenging time for everyone.

"We have over 10 million customers and saw a 50 per cent increase in the number of calls we would normally receive.”

He said the company has recruited 700 extra staff to deal with increased demand.

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During the AGM, one shareholder highlighted that British Gas HomeCare is the UK's worst insurance product in terms of the number of complaints about it following more than 160,000 complaints to the Financial Conduct Authority in the first half of last year.

Mr Wheway said the company has previously acknowledged issues within the HomeCare business and is taking steps to improve matters.