With soaring prices people are taking things into their own hands in order to tackle the cost of living crisis.
- Campaigners are urging energy customers to stop their direct debits on the 1st October
- Price hikes could come from the 1st October 2022
- Campaigners say that if one million customers don’t pay there could be a day of reckoning for the energy sector.
The #DontPayUK trend is doing the rounds on social media – but what does it mean and is it legal?
Essentially come the 1st of October the campaign is hoping to get millions of UK energy customers, UK householders and renters to stop paying their energy bills via direct debit. Campaigners are using Twitter, TikTok and Facebook to urge customers to cancel their direct debits with their suppliers.
During the summer months millions of customers have been paying above and beyond their actual usage. Customers who pay by direct debits have had their bills set by the energy firms and are often unable to change the amounts going out each month.
Why has #DontPayUK come about?
The average energy costs for UK customers has soared in the last year, rising by almost £700 to almost £2,000 in April. Energy regulator, OfGem sets a price cap – and the next price cap is set to rise in October and then again in January.
So what is the plan?
According to the DontPayUK website,
“It’s simple: we are demanding a reduction of energy bills to an affordable level. Our leverage is that we will gather a million people to pledge not to pay if the government goes ahead with another massive hike on October 1st.
“Mass non-payment is not a new idea, it happened in the UK in the late 80s and 90s, when more than 17 million people refused to pay the Poll Tax – helping bring down the government and reversing its harshest measures.
“Even if a fraction of those of us who are paying by direct debit stop our payments, it will be enough to put energy companies in serious trouble, and they know this. We want to bring them to the table and force them to end this crisis.”
As it stands and at the time of publishing, 14953 people have signed up to the campaign.
Day of reckoning for energy firms
The organisers go on to explain,
“With 1 million people, we can withhold £230 million for 28 days before energy companies can take any action. And then we can withhold another £230 million each month – possibly even more as the weather gets colder through winter and we use more energy. Possibly even more as more people start joining the strike.
“With 1 million people, we could be withholding more than £1.4 billion by the end of winter.
“In 2021, almost 30 energy companies collapsed – by withholding hundreds of millions of pounds we could force a true reckoning within an already unstable, insecure market.”
Can energy firms cut you off?
If you don’t pay your bill after 28 days, energy firms can take further actions against you. However, the campaign has said that if millions sign up to its movement, “they’ll be forced to first contact thousands, tens of thousands or even more customers about the possibility of disconnecting supply – but only after 28 days have passed. Then they’ll have to give a chance to set up a payment plan before, in most cases, applying to a court for a warrant. It’ll cause paralysis and create a months-long backlog.”
The idea here is to basically stop paying your bills through direct debits and not to stop paying your bills completely.