Would You Consider Committing to Not Paying Your Energy Bill?

Would you consider committing to not paying your energy bill?

A campaign called Don’t Pay UK is calling for one million people to stop paying their energy bills from October 1.

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A group of anonymous activists are behind the campaign, which is a protest against the huge price hikes in energy bills we’ve seen over the last year.

The Don’t Pay campaign launched on July 2 and has already gathered 4,000 followers on social media.

During Margaret Thatcher’s government, 17 million people refused to pay poll tax, and the group say they are hoping for a rerun of protests on that scale.

The black and yellow manifesto on the group’s website says: “Millions of us won’t be able to afford food and bills this winter. We cannot afford to let that happen. We demand a reduction of bills to an affordable level. We will cancel our direct debits from October 1 if we are ignored.”

Energy price caps increased

The annual cap on average bills was raised by almost £700 to nearly £2,000 in April, causing energy costs to skyrocket.

  • In October, it’s expected to rise again to just under £3,000
  • This means costs will have more than doubled in less than a year
  • Rishi Sunak has announced a £15bn package of help to provide one-off payments to households
  • Don’t Pay argues this will not be enough

Tom, a spokesperson for the group, said:

So much hope has been lost and we’re just heading towards a genuinely catastrophic winter.

Thousands of people will freeze to death in their homes if we do nothing.

He is demanding “intervention on a broad scale” and a cut to bills.

Somewhere between 15 to 20 people are involved in the campaign and Tom is deliberately vague about his background, saying he has worked in “energy adjacent policy”.

Of the decision to remain anonymous he said: “We’re not actually telling people not to pay, we’re saying ‘this is an idea’, but it can be construed as inciting people to break contracts and they can pursue people personally.”

People suffering who can’t afford to pay

Tom said he has spoken to people who are suffering with cancer who say they are training themselves to withstand the cold or to only have one or two meals a day.

All their energy should be spent fighting this terrible disease. And parents who aren’t feeding themselves to feed their kids, but also wrapping kids in blankets and a coat while they try to do their homework.

Social media and community groups are being used as part of the campaign to help gain momentum and awareness. 

People looking to join across England, Scotland and Wales have reportedly ordered 20,000 leaflets from the website already.

Don’t Pay estimates one million people could withhold £1.4bn from energy company coffers through the winter if they take part in the campaign.

Anyone who signs up will be asked to share their approximate location to show the scale of the potential “mass non-payment strike”.

Risks of taking part in campaign

To help mitigate risks, people on prepayment meters are discouraged from taking part as they will be disconnected when their credit runs out. 

People who haven’t paid their bill after 28 days will usually be contacted by suppliers and they must be given the opportunity to use a payment plan to clear their debt.

If a consumer refuses to sign up to a plan they can be forced to move to a prepayment meter, but certain rules have to be followed before this happens.

Suppliers can disconnect customers by getting a court warrant or cut them off remotely if they have a smart meter – but only in extreme circumstances.

  • Vulnerable people or those over the state pension age cannot be disconnected during winter
  • If energy bills are included within rent and the rent is not paid, landlords may move to evict the tenant

According to Don’t Pay, the strike could “cause paralysis and create a months-long backlog”.

If there’s a million people and they decided to go down the route of trying to take everyone to court that wouldn’t be particularly successful.

If you are wondering whether bills should be included in your rent, read our helpful guide here.

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