Why thousands are joining the 'Don't Pay Campaign' as energy prices rise

Credit: PA Images

Tens of thousands of people have added their names to a pledge to cancel their direct debits for gas and electricity from 1 October.

Ofgem has today confirmed that the energy price cap will be updated quarterly, rather than every six months, as it warned that customers face a "very challenging winter ahead".

With the cost of energy bills expected to rise to over £3,600 this winter and up to one in three people expected to be in fuel poverty, the 'Don't Pay' campaign has rapidly been gaining momentum.

What costs are rising?

  • The current record price cap, at £1,971, is already hundreds of pounds more than the previous high, and is predicted to nearly double when the price cap changes in October.

  • An energy price cap is a limit on the maximum amount suppliers can charge for each unit of gas and electricity you use, rather than a price cap on your overall bill.

  • Today, Ofgem has warned customers of "a very challenging winter ahead," as it announces it will update its energy price cap four times a year instead of every six months.

  • Ofgem says it will publish the energy price cap change at the end of August.

  • The price cap change means households' energy bills will go up or down every three months, instead of six.

Energy bills are expected to hit almost £4,000 a year this winter Credit: PA

What is the aim of the Don't Pay Campaign?

  • Campaigners are planning to cancel their direct debits on 1 October, if the government and big energy companies have not reduced bills to an 'affordable level'.

  • The campaign, which was started by a group of people concerned by rising bills, has had requests for 1.6 million flyers - and seen 70,000 people sign up online.

  • They are demanding a reduction in bills, to a level people can afford.

  • Their aim is to 'minimise the risk of fighting the energy industry as much as possible'.

A spokesperson for Don't Pay said: "We have been left with no option but to take this course of action to force the government to act. Energy is not an ordinary commodity, it is essential for life.

"For heating, eating, lighting and everything else we need to get by. We're facing an energy price hike that will make those basic things impossible.

"Our politicians and the oil and gas corporations have designed an energy system that only channels money and profits upwards, no matter the human cost."

They added: "Many of us are already struggling to pay our bills while we see energy companies recording record profits. That can't be right, and we won't accept it."If the government and energy companies refuse to act then ordinary working people will. Together we will collectively enforce a fair price and the government and oil and gas giants will have to sort it out amongst themselves."

One person wrote on twitter, saying: "The very poorest in society don’t have the option of joining the “don’t pay” campaign as they most all exclusively on pre payment meters and the energy suppliers won’t switch them to direct debits."

Another wrote: "Don’t pay campaign.. count me in."

What help is available?

  • In May, the government announced an energy costs support package – worth £400 per household – in response to predictions that bills would rise to £2,800 for the average household in October.

  • The package also promised extra support for more vulnerable households.

  • A £650 one-off Cost of Living Payment for some 8 million households on means tested benefits.

  • A one-off Pensioner Cost of Living Payment for over 8 million pensioner households to be paid alongside the Winter Fuel Payment. This is worth £200-£300 and is paid to nearly all homes with at least one person of pension age.

  • A £150 one-off Disability Cost of Living Payment for around six million people across the UK who receive certain disability benefits.

  • A £500 million increase and extension of the Household Support Fund available to councils to help with essentials such as clothing and food.

  • People who are struggling with their energy bills should contact their supplier. Ofgem rules mean suppliers must offer payment plans people can afford and customers can ask for “emergency credit” if they use a prepay meter and cannot top up.

MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis has previously warned that the UK is nearing a "poll tax moment".

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.