Surges in support for campaigners calling for non-payment of electricity bills

Support for a UK campaign group that urges consumers to cancel direct debit payments on their electricity bills is “doubling every week” amid rising public anger over soaring domestic fuel prices.

Don’t Pay UK, founded six weeks ago, said 70,000 people have pledged to stop direct debit transactions from 1 October when a big increase Electricity bills must be paid.

With local groups promoting their campaign in cities like London, Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield, the company said it received requests from local organizers for 1.6 million flyers while its Twitter following increased. more than triple from 22,000 to 79,000 in the past. a week.

However, consumer and charitable groups have warned consumers that stopping direct debits could force them to upgrade to more expensive prepaid meters or damage their credit history.

“Canceling your direct debit. . . take you out of any existing payment plan [such as a fixed-rate tariff or debt repayment plan] and you will lose your rebate by adding 7-8 percent to your electricity bill,” he said. Gemma Khatvanifounder of the Energy Support and Advice UK Facebook group.

Khatwani’s group is campaigning for the government to provide more targeted assistance to low-income families, but it fears protests against non-payments will put people’s finances at risk.

“If you can’t afford to pay the bills, it’s best to contact your energy supplier. If you don’t have debt, although the companies don’t advertise it, asking to switch to variable direct debit means you’ll only pay for the energy you use each month, and you can try to cut your bills by reducing your consumption.”

Energy regulator Ofgem will announce the next price cap update at the end of August. In May, after Ofgem said there were early indications that the energy price ceiling would rise to £2,800 from £1971, the government announced a £15bn support package.

But since gas prices took off energy consultancy Cornwall Insight has predicted in recent weeks that the limit could top £3,300 – and will top £3,600 from January, when the next revision is expected.

National Energy Action, a charity, reports that 8 million households in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are at risk of fuel poverty.

Incredible profits by energy groups have fueled public anger over domestic bills. BP this week informed its highest quarterly earnings in 14 years and announced a 10% dividend increase. Shell last week informed it broke earnings records for the second quarter in a row.

Becky from West Dunbartonshire, a Don’t Pay supporter, told the FT: “My electricity bill is £217. [and is] should rise again in October, which means that I will pay more for energy than for a mortgage.

The campaign group compared its calls for mass electricity bill defaults to millions of people’s refusal to pay the poll tax in the 1980s, which contributed to its abolition. However, experts say there are differences that have important implications for consumers.

“Canceling your direct debit means suppliers…. . start the debt collection process,” said Matthew Cole, founder of the Fuel Bank Foundation, a charity that gives out vouchers to people trying to pay prepaid meters. “If you use a smart meter, it can be remotely switched to prepaid,” he said, though suppliers would need a magistrate’s warrant to do so.

UK households will receive a £400 government grant to pay their electricity bills within six months from October, while households receiving benefits will receive additional assistance. Activists say it won’t be enough for those struggling to pay.

Don’t Pay said: “The government can intervene any time before October 1st to avoid the catastrophe that awaits millions of people this winter.”