Can’t pay, won’t pay

Soaring costs have given rise to a civil disobedience movement aiming to put pressure on energy firms

Don’t Pay UK, the anonymous group organising the campaign, says it hopes enough people will follow suit to put energy companies in “serious trouble”. “We want to bring them to the table and force them to end this crisis,” its website says.

A campaign is urging 1 million consumers to stop paying their energy bills from October in protest at record price hikes.

Run by a group of activists who are operating anonymously for fear of repercussions from energy firms, the Don’t Pay campaign launched last Saturday and has already gathered 4,000 social media followers. They say they are hoping for a rerun of the poll tax protests that helped bring down Margaret Thatcher’s government when 17 million people refused to pay.

The manifesto, emblazoned in black and yellow 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 1 October if we are ignored.”

Don’t Pay aims to get 1 million of the 28 million UK electricity customers to stop paying their monthly direct debit, if no action is taken to cushion October’s hike. It estimates 1 million people could withhold £1.4bn from energy company coffers through the winter.

Those who sign up will not be asked to publicly state their refusal to pay but to simply share their approximate location to show the scale of the potential “mass non-payment strike”.