What is Don’t Pay UK?

Campaign hopes to encourage one million people to cancel their direct debits to energy providers

Energy bill
The energy cap is forecast to rise to £4,266 a year by next spring
(Image credit: Daniel Harvey Gonzalez/In Pictures via Getty Images)

As rising energy bills become an increasing concern for millions of households, campaign group Don’t Pay UK is urging people across the UK to join its non-payment movement.

Gas and electricity bills are rocketing, with analysts estimating that the energy price cap could hit £4,266 a year by early next year.

Explaining its dire forecast, consultancy firm Cornwall Insight has cited the decision by regulator Ofgem to change the energy price cap every three months instead of every six months, as well as a higher wholesale prices.

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The Don’t Pay UK campaign has gathered momentum in recent weeks, with the group claiming more than 80,000 people have pledged to cancel their debit payments to energy companies from 1 October.

What are the campaign’s aims?

The campaign group says it wants to hold energy firms accountable and is urging the government to bring down bills. It plans to force companies and the government to take action by proposing that households cancel payment of their energy bills.

The campaign group says it takes inspiration from the national Poll Tax payment strike of the late 1980s and 1990s when some 17 million people refused to pay the tax, which it says helped reverse some of its “harshest measures”.

The campaign hopes to encourage one million people to cancel their direct debits from 1 October, when Ofgem will once again raise the energy price cap.

How bad will it get?

Households are facing soaring energy prices, after wholesale gas prices started to rise in 2021. This increase was then compounded by the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The Ofgem price cap has increased 54% since April and is predicted to rise even further.

Fuel costs are one of the “main reasons” that UK inflation is “higher now than at any point in the past 40 years”, said This Is Money, leaving millions facing fuel poverty this winter.

Meanwhile, oil and energy companies such as BP have enjoyed “booming earnings in recent months” on the back of rising energy prices which has left households around the world struggling with rising costs, reported The Guardian.

Is refusing to pay bills a good idea?

Legal and financial experts have urged customers to think carefully before tearing up their contracts with energy providers, “warning that failing to pay their bills could see them cut off and leave their credit score in tatters”, said the iNews site.

Solicitor Gary Rycroft told the site that there was no “safety in numbers” and non-payment of energy bills could mean households are in “breach of their contract with the energy companies”.

Another legal expert, Paul Britton, told This Is Money that while the “best-case scenario” is that the protest “sparks a change in the law requiring energy firms to lower their prices”, the “worst-case scenario” could end with people having their energy supplies cut off as winter approaches.

Britton also warned that a county court judgment could be made against people who cancelled their direct debits, which could affect their credit rating, and that they may also incur extra costs, such as the legal fees for the energy firm.

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