“Don’t pay UK”: in the United Kingdom, a call to refuse to pay your energy bill

A campaign in the UK is urging over a million consumers to stop paying their electricity bills from October 2022, in protest against record price rises set to hit the British Isles this winter .

Canceling direct debits and neglecting bills are among the recommendations of the movement, which relies on civil disobedience to put pressure on energy suppliers. Demonstrations are also expected, according to information from the daily “The Guardian”.

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The move comes as Russia abruptly cuts its gas supply to European countries. Asphyxiated, European industries are struggling to bridge the abysmal difference between the cost of kWh and consumer prices.

Led by a group of activists who operate on condition of anonymity – for fear of reprisals – the “Don’t Pay UK” campaign was launched during the month of June and has already gathered nearly 75,000 people.

10.5 million households below the poverty line

In the UK, energy costs have skyrocketed in recent months. The gas and electricity bill is expected to hit £3,358 (€3,970) for the year in October, according to consultancy Cornwall Insight, up from £1,400 (€1,655) in October 2021.

This cost of living crisis is likely to force many Britons to choose between warm up and eat this winter. According to End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC), around 10.5 million households will be in fuel poverty in the first three months of next year. In other words, their income after paying the charges will fall below the poverty line.

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Adherents of the movement hope to see an effect similar to the campaign “Don’t pay the poll tax” which brought down the government of Margaret Thatcher in 1990. 18 million Britons then refused to pay their taxes.

A risk of indebtedness

“Don’t pay UK” was immediately condemned by the British government. “This is a highly irresponsible message that will ultimately only drive up prices for everyone”said a spokesperson whose remarks are relayed by “The Guardian”.

“While no government can control global gas prices, we are providing £37 billion in support to households, including £400 reduction on energy bills, and £1,200 in direct support to most vulnerable households to help them meet the cost of living”he added.

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Financial experts, meanwhile, warned consumers about the risks involved in non-payment, such as debt and the possibility of being put on a prepaid meter and having to pay additional charges. In extreme cases, suppliers could shut off power, although this is rare.

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“Don’t pay UK”: in the United Kingdom, a call to refuse to pay your energy bill