More than 100,000 people join Don’t Pay UK in protest against energy price rises

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA</span>
Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

More than 100,000 people have pledged to cancel their direct debits for gas and electricity from October in protest against rocketing energy prices, according to a campaign group.

Don’t Pay UK, which launched in June this year, said its campaign had reached “millions of people” and the support received so far “demonstrates the anger and frustration at a broken energy system that needs to be drastically transformed for the interests of people”.

“In just a few weeks, over 100,000 of us from across the country have come together to say we will refuse to be pushed into fuel poverty and we no longer want to pay for the profits of the energy companies,” it said.

“We are building the biggest mass non-payment campaign since the Poll Tax and we are showing the powers that be that our collective power will force an end to this crisis.”

Don’t Pay UK, which is run by a group of activists operating anonymously, said that in addition to the 100,000 pledges, more than 31,000 people have signed up as activists in their communities and 3,000 have joined 150 Don’t Pay groups across the country.

The announcement comes as annual bills for a typical household are forecast to top £4,200 from January amid the biggest cost of living crisis in Britain for decades.

Don’t Pay UK said it would only take action if one million people signed up to the mass non-payment of energy bills by 1 October and the government failed to “adequately address the crisis”.

Despite the momentum building for the movement, charities have warned that not paying energy bills could lead to serious consequences, including harming an individual’s credit score.

This week the consumer champion Martin Lewis described soaring energy bills as “a national crisis” on the scale of the Covid pandemic and the former prime minister, Gordon Brown, writing in the Guardian, called for energy companies that cannot offer lower bills to be temporarily brought back into public ownership.

On Thursday, Boris Johnson, the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, and business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, met with energy company bosses to discuss the situation.

Johnson appealed to the electricity companies to help ease the cost of living pressures, but added that any “significant fiscal decisions” would be for whoever succeeds him next month to take.

The Treasury said Zahawi and the energy firms agreed to “work closely” over the coming weeks to ensure the public, including vulnerable customers, were supported in the face of rising costs, but did not elaborate on what that would entail.