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Gas network fined £44m after leaving homes cut off and losing hundreds of records | Business News



Gas distribution firm Cadent has been fined a record £44m after leaving customers disconnected, failing to pay compensation, and losing records for 775 high rise flats in its network.

Regulator Ofgem said the company, which is responsible for piping gas for cooking and heating to millions of people, had admitted a series of failings.

As part of its penalty package, Cadent agreed to double the compensation it pays to customers who experience an unplanned interruption in service, at a cost of £6.7m for the next two years.

Ofgem said it became aware last year that the company was increasingly leaving residents in blocks of flats without gas for longer than necessary, for example during repairs to pipes.

Cadent also admitted to failing to pay compensation over a six-year period to a possible 12,000 affected residents left without gas for more than 24 hours as it should have done.

Meanwhile a review of Cadent’s records had found it had no records of 775 high rise blocks of flats which meant they were not part of its regular inspection or maintenance programme.

Cadent has agreed to pay £24m towards improvement and compensation and set up a £20m compensation fund.

Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan said: “Ofgem has worked with the company, which is under new ownership and has given commitment to improve its operations to put customers at the heart of the business, to help it address failings and prevent further harm customers’ interests.”

Cadent Gas Limited owns and manages four of the UK’s eight gas distribution networks – the West Midlands, North West England, East of England, and north London – supplying gas to around 11 million homes.

Chief executive Steve Hurrell said: “We acknowledge that in the past, we have fallen short of customer expectations and the higher standards we have now set ourselves; for this we are sorry.”

It made an operating profit of £724m last year.

The previous biggest penalty levied by Ofgem came when energy generator Drax paid £28m in 2014 for failing to meet a target on helping households save energy.

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