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Ofgem chief advises against campaign urging millions to not pay energy bills

Anna Verdon

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Ofgem chief advises against campaign urging millions to not pay energy bills

A campaign has been launched for people to cancel their gas and electricity direct debit payments from October 1, but Ofgem Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley is warning that this could drive up costs for everyone.

Yet, thousands of people have already pledged to support the campaign set up by the group Don’t Pay.

Don’t Pay said: “Millions of us won’t be able to afford food and bills this winter. We cannot afford to let that happen.

"The plan is simple. We are demanding a reduction of energy bills to an affordable level. We will gather a million people to pledge not to pay if the government goes ahead with another massive hike on October 1.”

Ofgem Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley. Credit: Sky News
Ofgem Chief Executive Jonathan Brearley. Credit: Sky News

The group added: “Mass non-payment is not a new idea, it happened in the UK in the late 80s and 90s, when more than 17 million people refused to pay the Poll Tax – helping bring down the government and reversing its harshest measures.

“Even if a fraction of those of us who are paying by direct debit stop our payments, it will be enough to put energy companies in serious trouble, and they know this. We want to bring them to the table and force them to end this crisis.”

However, although the Ofgem boss recognises the concern over rising costs, he is warning that in going on strike, the situation could be made worse.

Energy Live News have reported that in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Brearley, said: “I know everyone is extremely worried about paying their energy bill, but absolutely I would not encourage anyone to join a campaign like this for two reasons.

Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

“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.”

Instead, he advised that people should access the support that is available so they don’t pay more than necessary.

Although the government is giving households a £400 discount towards their bills, experts say more still needs to be done.

Ofgem are also yet to take any pressure off customers.

Speaking to Energy Live News, a Don’t Pay spokesperson said: “We’re facing a catastrophe this winter. Millions won’t be able to pay to keep their homes warm and that will result in thousands of people freezing to death.

“The only way we will avert this is if millions of us refuse to pay these extortionate prices and collectively force Ofgem and the government to act in the interests of the people and not the energy industry.”

Featured Image Credit: Credit: Sky News/ Twitter @dontpayUK

Topics: Money, Home

Anna Verdon
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