Government says campaign for energy bill payers to go on strike is ‘highly irresponsible’


The government has said a campaign for energy bill-payers to go on strike and refuse to pay rising tariffs is “highly irresponsible”.

A campaign group called Don’t Pay says 70,000 people have so far pledged to cancel their direct debits for gas and electricity in protest at escalating costs.

The government’s energy price cap, set by regulator Ofgem, is currently set at £1,971 a year for a typical household – but it is predicted to rise to well over £3,000 from 1 October.

There are also warnings that prices could go even higher in April 2023, hitting around £3,700 on current trajectories.

Don’t Pay, which was started by a group of people concerned by rising bills, says the number of people agreeing to its pledge not to pay bills is doubling every week.

“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,” a spokesperson for Don’t Pay said.

“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.”

8.5 million are expected to be shunted into fuel poverty by the rising prices by the end of 2022, according to campaign group End Fuel Poverty.

The rise in fuel prices is largely caused by a surge in global demand following the reopening of economies post Covid-19, as well as constraints on supply caused by the war in Ukraine.

But records profits at energy companies like British Gas owner Centrica while bills hit sky high levels have caused anger and led to accusations that some firms are cashing in on a crisis.

The government has been urged to take further action on top of help already announced by former chancellor Rishi Sunak – but nothing new has been unveiled for months while ministers focus on the Tory leadership contest.

A government spokesperson said: “This is highly irresponsible messaging, which ultimately will only push up prices for everyone else and affect personal credit ratings.

“While no government can control global gas prices, we are providing £37bn of help for households including the £400 discount on energy bills, and £1,200 of direct support for the most vulnerable households to help with the cost of living.”

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