Enough: This winter I will refuse to pay my energy bills | Christopher

IWe have not engaged in any kind of civil disobedience before. I’ve always been a good boy—I’m not the type to stick myself to the M25. But I realized that only through collective action can we persuade the government and the energy companies to make some very drastic changes. That’s why I joined the Don’t Pay campaign. On October 1, when the next price cap comes into effect, I’ll phone EDF and tell them that in solidarity with millions of others, I won’t pay any more until they lower their prices.

Before the price cap went up on the 1st of April, I was already worried that I might not be able to afford any big price increases. I am chronically ill, therefore disabled, retired. I could have paid £106 a month for dual fuel. Then it went up to about £170 – which is way too high for me, but I can take it. We hear now that there will likely be a 60%-70% increase in the price cap this winter. Well, I’m afraid I can’t pay that. I will find it unsustainable. And there will be millions of others like me.

Keep in mind that I live alone. During the winter, I have no downstairs heating at all; I only use a radiator in my bedroom (due to my health, I need to spend a lot of time lying down) and a heated towel rail in the bathroom. But I’ll still be in fuel poverty: I figured I’d pay more than 10% of the money I make on energy costs. I read that as of October, one in three households is likely to be in fuel poverty. That’s what’s behind a no-pay campaign – it’s just a community of ordinary people who have been pushed into an unbearable situation.

There may be critics who say that refusing to pay bills is irresponsible or risky. I would like to respond to that by saying that this is a risk that the energy companies and the government are pushing us into. Moreover, companies are making huge profits at the expense of ordinary people. Shell made £9.5 billion, which is a 26 per cent increase over its previous profit. Don’t hope that you don’t get to the point where energy companies punish anyone for their behavior: it is clear that this stage should never be reached, because we must have a responsible government that will step in and avert this disaster before October.

I’ve convinced about half a dozen people I connect with on social media to make the pledge, too. The Don’t Pay program aims to get a million people to pledge to strike. It’s a big number, but it matches the scale of this crisis. I understand that 70,000 have already signed up, and as people talk to each other, non-payment will become more and more socially acceptable. Someone asked on Facebook that day, “Well, why don’t you do that now?” But we need to have the effect of teamwork happening at the same time.

I’m not a partisan politician at all – I don’t have an ax to grind left or right. But the government seems to have failed the poorest. Several years passed as wages were abolished, particularly in the public sector; Hence all the talk about strikes. By suppressing these wages, the government was driving people into poverty. Decisions I’ve made over the past several years—including failing to insulate the huge number of homes leaking thermal energy—have made this worse, especially for the poor. As for the opposition: I don’t know what the Labor Party’s policies on high energy prices are.

Getting an adequately warm home is a human right. There is a massive excess of winter deaths every year – I fear there will be many, many cold weather-related tragedies among the elderly and the disabled this winter, as people do not dare to turn on the heating. So the government has to do something about the price cap. It must be reduced.

  • Christopher (pseudonym) is part of the Don’t Pay campaign. He is 75 years old and lives in South Yorkshire

  • As Johann Koshy said

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