British Gas vs ScottishPower

Read our full comparison of two of the UK's biggest energy providers.

British Gas and ScottishPower are established giants in the UK domestic energy supply market. They formed part of what used to be called the “Big Six” group of large energy suppliers that used to dominate the market, alongside EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower and SSE. While these suppliers still command a majority of the market, a group of smaller “challengers”, including firms like Octopus Energy and OVO Energy, have poached many of their customers.

But what do these 2 legacy suppliers offer? Established at the turn of the 20th century in Glasgow, ScottishPower is one of the UK’s largest producers of electricity from offshore wind. As well as supplying a range of fuel tariffs, ScottishPower sells packages for boiler and appliance servicing through insurance and repair firm Domestic & General.

British Gas has a longer history, beginning life in 1812 as the Gas Light and Coke Company, the world’s first public utilities company. Today, like ScottishPower, it offers a wide range of energy tariffs, including some time-of-use tariffs designed to cater to electric vehicle owners who want to charge their vehicles at home during “off-peak” periods.

Read on to find out how these 2 firms compare when it comes to tariff types, value, customer service and green credentials.

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British Gas vs ScottishPower: Vital statistics

British Gas Energy FinderScottishPower Energy Finder
Finder score★★★★★★★★★★
Manage account via appticktick
Can offer Warm Home Discount
Percentage renewables (electricity)76%36%
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Which is cheaper?

This will heavily depend on your tariff, location and usage, but it’s fair to say that neither of these is likely to be the cheapest option available. Large legacy suppliers tend to charge more for energy than smaller “challenger” brands.

While both companies offer some competitive benefits, both firms’ customers are also liable to face price rises in future, as market regulator Ofgem is increasing the energy price cap, giving energy firms the green light to increase their prices from October 2021. This is likely to hit both “default” variable and fixed tariffs over the coming months. The best way to find out which is better value for you is to run an energy comparison, using a postcode checker like the one on Uswitch's comparison service.

  • Winner: It depends

Which has better customer service?

British Gas Energy FinderScottishPower Energy Finder
Finder score★★★★★★★★★★
Manage onlineticktick
Manage account via appticktick
Manage account by telephoneticktick
Live chat support availableticktick
Email support availableticktick

In 2020, ScottishPower was the most complained about “Big Six” provider, according to data compiled by the charity Citizens Advice. An average of 58.7 complaints per 10,000 ScottishPower customers were escalated to a third party, including the Energy Ombudsman, a dispute resolution organisation recognised by the energy industry.

Over the same period, an average of 24.6 complaints per 10,000 British Gas customers could not be resolved without outside involvement. This is pretty much in the middle of the scale for the industry last year.

  • Winner: British Gas

Which offers more tariff options?

British Gas Energy FinderScottishPower Energy Finder
Green tariffsticktick
Fixed tariffsticktick
Variable tariffsticktick
Dual fuel deals

Aside from the usual selection of “default” standard variable and fixed deals, both of these suppliers offer a broad range of tariff types designed to cater for a range of circumstances. Both firms also offer pre-payment tariffs, which can help households better control how much they spend on their energy usage. But it’s worth bearing in mind that pre-payment tariffs typically end up costing customers more over the long term when compared to households who pay for their energy via direct debit and are supplied through a credit meter.

Both suppliers offer fixed tariffs that charge exit fees and those that don’t. If a British Gas customer wishes to leave a fixed tariff early and is subject to an exit fee, they will typically need to pay either £30 or £40 per fuel to be released from their deal. ScottishPower customers who want to be released from a fixed tariff that charges exit fees will need to pay £30 per fuel.

While these 2 giants offer broadly the same range of energy tariffs, the typically lower exit fees charged by ScottishPower give it the edge. ScottishPower also offers tariffs that help to support the charity Cancer Research by making a donation on a customer’s behalf for every month they remain with the supplier.

  • Winner: ScottishPower

Which is greener: British Gas or ScottishPower?

If you’re conscious of your carbon footprint, it’s worth investigating how forward-thinking a supplier is when it comes to green energy.

According to data submitted to the UK government, as of March 2020, ScottishPower’s supply of electricity from renewable sources (36%) was slightly below the national average of 37.9%. According to the same data, British Gas buys or offsets its electricity in such a way that it can say that over 75% comes from renewable sources.

It’s worth noting that ScottishPower’s green tariffs and all “British Gas Evolve” tariffs promise to source all their fuel for electricity supply from 100% renewable sources.

  • Winner: British Gas

Verdict: Is British Gas better than ScottishPower?

While neither firm is likely to be the cheapest in your area, it looks like British Gas takes the lead when it comes to the overall rankings. This is mostly due to the fact that it appears to have more satisfied customers than ScottishPower, according to complaints data from Citizens Advice. In most other areas, the 2 firms are broadly similar in what they provide their customers. But while price is likely to be a key factor in helping potential customers decide to make the switch, customer service is also a major decider – that’s why the crown goes to British Gas this time.

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Nick Renaud-Komiya's headshot

Nick Renaud-Komiya has been a writer and reporter for nine years, covering a range of consumer issues from energy suppliers to banking and mortgage issues. He enjoys helping people take control of their personal finances and better understand their consumer rights. Nick’s consumer writing and money journalism has been featured in a range of outlets including, The Sunday Mirror, The Independent and Outside of work Nick enjoys cooking and collecting old David Bowie merch. See full bio

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