UK government criticizes utility's gas price hike

The British government has expressed concern about British Gas's plan to increase electricity prices, arguing that it would hurt low-income people who fail to shop around for the best price.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy called for "rapid reform," of price regulations after British Gas announced it would hike prices by 12.5 percent beginning Sept. 15. The department says in statement Tuesday that "policies driving energy efficiency improvements have more than offset the cost of energy policies."

British Gas, owned by Centrica Plc, said it would offset the hike by providing a 76 pound ($101) credit to low-income consumers who already receive a government heating discount.

The company says it last raised prices in 2013, and that overall transmission costs have risen since then.