The resistance is growing as more than 75,000 irritated people in the UK have pledged not to pay their electricity bill this fall when prices jump again.
“75,000 people have pledged to strike on October 1st! If the government & energy companies refuse to act then ordinary people will! Together we can enforce a fair price and affordable energy for all,” tweeted “Don’t Pay UK,” an anonymous group spearheading the effort to have more than one million Brits boycott paying their power bill by Oct. 1.
The strike comes as an inflation storm of high energy prices has obliterated household incomes. Brits are the most miserable in three decades as inflation is expected to hit 13%. And while Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey hiked interest rates the most in 27 years to tame inflation, risks are mounting of a recession.
On Oct. 1, the average household will pay almost £300 a month for power, the BoE warned. Couple surging power costs with negative real wage growth, and it becomes apparent households are being squeezed. This excludes soaring prices for shelter, food, and petrol at the pump — this trend is unsustainable and could result in social instabilities.
British news outlet Glasgow Live said the strike is similar to the “action in the late 1980s and ’90s to fight against the poll tax brought in by PM Margaret Thatcher. In protest, 17 million people refused to pay.”
UK financial journalist and broadcaster Martin Lewis said this about the strike:
“I think I can categorise it more accurately now, the big movement that I am seeing is an increase of growth in people calling for a non-payment of energy bills, mass non-payment. Effectively a consumer strike on energy bills and getting rid of the legitimacy of paying that.
“We are getting close to a Poll Tax moment on energy bills coming into October and 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.”
Meanwhile, Ofgem (UK energy regulator) Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley told BBC Radio 4’s Today on Saturday that people shouldn’t join the strike for two reasons.
“First of all, it will drive up costs for everyone across the board. And secondly, if you are facing difficulty in paying your bill, the best thing you can do is get in touch with your energy company.”
He added: ‘I would not encourage anyone to withhold their paying their bill because that just damages things further and it will impact them personally.’
Last week, the UK government slammed the movement, calling it “highly irresponsible.”
“This is highly irresponsible messaging, which ultimately will only push up prices for everyone else and affect personal credit ratings,” a government spokesperson was quoted by The Independent.
Don’t Pay UK believes 6.3 million UK households will be pushed into power bill poverty this winter, with millions more feeling the stress of out-of-control inflation.
People on Twitter responded to the moment by saying, “the Revolution has begun” and “a bit of civil unrest on its way onto our streets & rightly so.”
Perhaps the movement’s involvement will be an excellent proxy for the growing discontent festering among Brits that could result in civil unrest this winter as millions will struggle with keeping the lights on, the furnace hot, and putting food on the table.
If paying your bill is optional, then either they will find a way to make you pay without noticing, or they’ll run out of money for paychecks and the power will go off. It doesn’t matter how loudly we insist the money should exist. If it isn’t there, the employees go home.