BRITISH Gas owner Centrica is to cut 4000 jobs after a tough end to 2017.

Chief executive Iain Conn said plans for a price cap in the UK was one reason for the job losses, just over half of which will be in the UK.

The energy supplier’s group profits decreased by 17 per cent to £1.25 billion.

British Gas lost 750,000 domestic customers in 2017, a decline of about nine per cent. The company is now left with 7.8 million UK domestic customers.

The cuts come on top of 5000 British Gas job losses since July 2015.

Centrica said the 4000 new job losses would be mainly within the UK energy supply area of the business.

The company said investment in technology and simplifying the way the business is run would result in savings of £1.25 billion per year by 2020. It also aims to create around 1000 additional roles.

Iain Conn told the BBC the job losses were also due to “intense” competition and customers using more digital services.

However, he believes government plans to control what businesses can charge customers also contributed to the decline.

Around 12 million UK households are charged some form of default tariff for their energy, which can cost hundreds of pounds more per year than the cheapest deals on offer.

The government is planning to cap the standard variable tariffs.

Conn added: “There is a link between our cost efficiency programme and preparing for any price cap in the UK.

“We’ve got to be competitive and this measure means we’ve got to drive more efficiency.”

GMB, the union for gas workers, condemned the job cuts, saying they are an “inevitable” part of a failing plan Conn has implemented since his appointment as CEO.

Stuart Fegan, GMB’s national officer, said: “Our members will be devastated that a further 4000 jobs from British Gas are planned to go by 2020. Our members will invariably ask why they have to potentially pay with their jobs to compensate for the failing plan that Iain Conn has brought to the Centrica business.

“We do not know where these potential job cuts will fall or if any sites of business units will be affected – but we will be obviously engage with British Gas urgently to understand these proposals.

“Members will also question why a great institution such as British Gas has got itself in such a mess in such a short period of time.

“British Gas has lost 750,000 customers in 2017 and seen its share price almost halve. Employees are leaving at record levels yet the business response is more of the same. Last year saw hundreds of thousands of customers leaving British Gas business due to tariff rolloff on several products – with no alternative offering to customers.

“It begs the question – why is the UK’s largest energy provider happy to haemorrhage customers?

“Iain Conn must immediately learn from the failure of other, now departed, battlefield generals that you cannot cut your way out of a crisis – GMB will fight these unnecessary job cuts.”

Unison, the largest union representing white collar workers at British Gas, also said the firm needed to alter its strategy.

Matt Lay of Unison said: “Staff quite simply will be devastated. Although Centrica has already shed thousands of jobs, it’s nowhere near out of the woods.”