Masses may stop paying energy bills in 'poll tax' moment, Martin Lewis warns

Riots broke out in the early 1990s over Margaret Thatcher's doomed poll tax reforms. Credit: ITV/PA

People could stop paying energy bills in scenes reminiscent of the early 1990s' poll tax riots, Martin Lewis has warned.

The financial journalist told ITV's Peston show that he can categorise civil unrest "more accurately" since noticing a Twitter account with just over 5,000 followers calling for Britons to cancel their direct debit payments.

Don't Pay UK is urging individuals to take action from October 1 if energy companies don't reduce bills to "an affordable level".

The group has taken inspiration from the early 90s, when riots broke out over Margaret Thatcher's doomed poll tax reforms.

Mr Lewis warned that the UK is nearing a "poll tax moment" as bills are set to rise again in October.

He said: "We need the government to get a handle on that, because once it starts becoming socially acceptable not to pay energy bills, people will stop paying energy bills and you’re not going to cut everyone off.”

Mr Lewis previously said he "felt sick" amid predictions that UK energy bills could rise past their current record-breaking levels.

Experts at Cornwall Insight said that, as wholesale prices continue to surge, the price cap for the average household could go up in January by £360 more than previously thought.

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They said bills could rise from the current record of £1,971 to £3,245 in October, and then further to £3,364 at the start of next year.

On Wednesday, Mr Lewis added claimed that the cost of living crisis was scarcely mentioned by candidates in the recent Conservative leadership debates.

"It was mentioned as an adjunct to talking about tax cuts," he said. 

"Tax cuts, of course, will put more money in people’s pockets, but they won’t help the poorest who have the least financial resilience because most of them are on the full state pension and nothing else and those on the lowest end of universal credit don’t pay tax."