A campaign group calling for action against rising energy bills with already 90,000 pledges to refuse payments has been warned of the serious consequences by UK charities.
The Don’t Pay UK group, which is demanding a reduction of bills to an affordable level, has reportedly gathered support from 80,000 people who intend to cancel their direct debit payments from 1 October, when the regulator raises the energy price cap, the maximum amount suppliers are allowed to charge.
It's a simple idea: We demand the govt scrap the energy price rises and deliver affordable energy for all. We will build a million pledges and by Oct 1st if the govt and energy companies fail to act we will cancel our direct debits. Read more here: https://t.co/NPF8VQXcHD pic.twitter.com/E4gPenIXiL
— Don't Pay. (@dontpayuk) June 18, 2022
The group said it will only take action if one million people sign up to its “mass non-payment strike of energy bills”.
Cornwall Insight said bills will hit a staggering £3,359 per year from October for the average household and then rise again to £3,615. However, some experts warn it could go higher, as much as £3,994 in January, according to Energy consultancy Auxilione.
But charities have warned not paying energy bills has very serious consequences for consumers.
Customers who do not agree a payment plan with their supplier, might be forced to have a prepayment meter installed.
In some cases, if the customer has not paid a bill after 28 days, the energy company might threaten with disconnection of supply but clients normally be offered a prepayment meter instead.
Citizens Advice said: “Your supplier also needs to follow clear guidance and make sure they’ve given you notice, given you time to pay any debts and offered you alternatives to being moved onto a prepayment meter.”
Energy companies can also pursue debts in county court where a judgment could negatively impact an individual’s credit rating.
If people have owed money to their energy supplier for a while, the energy company might pass their debt over to a debt collection agency.
Martin Lewis issued a warning to households about the movement on ITV's Peston show.
He said: "The big movement I am seeing is an increasing growth of people calling for a non payment of energy bills process – effectively a consumer strike."
He said that there will be "exponential problems" if people stop paying their bills and the government doesn't get a handle on the situation.
UK households are facing a once in a generation cost of living crisis as inflation is forecasted to hit 13.1% in a matter of months - it's currently sitting at 9.4%, the highest it's been in 40 years.
Gordon Brown has warned that people will have to go without food and be unable to heat their homes by October if the government doesn't take urgent action on the cost of living crisis.
Speaking to Sky News, the former Labour prime minister said he was seeing poverty in his hometown in Fife "that I did not expect to see ever again in my lifetime", as he took aim at the Conservatives' policies.
The Big Issue has joined Brown and his Anti-Poverty Coalition to call on the government to take urgent action to prevent a “poverty time-bomb” going off in October.
Brown warned in the magazine that millions of people were standing on the edge of a financial precipice.
He said: “We are calling for urgent measures to cover the cost of a further £1,000+ rise in fuel bills on top of April’s already painful increases.
“The grim facts right now are that 27.7 million people in 14.5m households are staring at fuel poverty in October – an unprecedented 53% of the United Kingdom’s population.”
He said the regional variations were “as big as they are frightening”, continuing: “The fuel poor will range from 47.5% in London to 60.8% in Wales and 61.5% in Scotland.
“And, if nothing is done before another fuel price rise hits in January, the fuel poor could rise to 39.4 million in 15.2 million households – 56 % of the country, with even more stark regional variations.”
Watch: Why are gas prices rising?