have pledged to strike on October 1st
We are a movement against the rise in energy bills
We demand a reduction in energy bills to an affordable level.
We will cancel our direct debits from Oct 1, if we are ignored.
We will take this action if pledges reach 1 million by then.
It's simple: we are demanding a reduction of energy bills to an affordable level. Our leverage is that we will gather a million people to pledge not to pay if the government goes ahead with another massive hike on October 1st.
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. Here’s how we think we can get there:
1. Build support.
For this to work, we are aiming for a million people to join in. It's a big number but so is this crisis.
Right now, we’re setting up email lists and on Telegram, TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter to start telling people about this.
We’re organising Zoom calls, in person meet-ups and talking to our friends and neighbours, printing flyers and stickers and bringing people together.
We'll need people, organisations and community groups to do all of this too, building this up street by street, estate by estate and city by city.
The first step is to get thousands of people like you to say you support the strike, you can do this by signing up below and joining all our social channels. If you support the payment strike, signup below.
2. Gather a million pledges.
We’re clear about this from the start: We only do this if we get a critical mass of people pledging to cancel their bills from October 1st.
That’s how many we need to show serious power to the energy companies and government who are taking us for a ride.
One million sounds like a lot, but millions more will already be thinking about whether they’ll be able to pay come winter and afford the other things they need to survive for them and their families.
Even more of us will be angry about paying more than double what we used to pay for the same amount we use. Let alone food, petrol and mortages.
3. Cancel our direct debits if the price hike goes ahead.
On 1 October, if the government and big energy companies have not reduced our bills to an affordable level and if we have critical mass pledged to cancel their bills, we all cancel them on the same day.
It can only work if we believe in each other and show the powers that be that we would not stand for being treated as cash cows.
We need help
It's all of us organising for the strike that will make this happen.
A million people is a lot, but we have to think big. That means aiming to create the infrastructure and seed the idea in a way that brings millions of people together around this action.
Imagine flyering football grounds, festivals, pubs and schools, door to door leafletting. That's why we need people like you to take this idea and run with it. Make it your own and make it work for the people you know.
Join our organiser list and we will put you in contact with like minded people in your area.
No one gets paid to organise this, we are running this off our own backs. For us to reach millions of people we need to scale up and be prepared to be pumping out 100K, 200K, 500K leaflets to keep those of you on the ground with the outreach materials you need to build this movement.
For example, £4K gets us 500K leaflets. We also need stickers, posters and postage. This will help us reduce the price and send out bulk loads for festivals, football matches and protests.
Please consider donating below.
Who started Don't Pay?
Don't Pay was started by a group of us who are friends because we saw the danger that rising energy bills are having on us, our families and our wider communities. We started to talk to more friends in our circle and set about planning what we thought was an effective idea to tackle this head on.
We were all very aware of what would be facing us if the hikes in prices continued and the catastrophe of this winter if no one did anything. Using our skills we built a website, designed and printed 20,000 leaflets and handed them out at the “We Demand Better” Trade Union demo in Central London on June 18th. The response was amazing. When we got back to our homes we saw it had taken off on social media and people started signing up and ordering leaflets.
Who runs Don't Pay?
Everyone involved in Don't Pay volunteers whatever skills and resources they can. From a small group of us chatting in a pub to hundreds of people getting involved in helping the tens of thousands who’ve signed up to form local groups shows just how many people are determined to fight this crisis.
We know, if this is going to work, it can't be organised top down or by a few people - we all have jobs and to be honest, that was never sustainable. Our main aim was to put this idea out with enough direction that it could take off and become everyone's movement for those who, like us, don’t want to just sit there and take it but do something about it.
There are of course many roles that people are taking on in terms of social media and strategy but anyone can get involved in organising a local group in their area and get on with it.
How is Don't Pay funded?
There's no funding, no one gets paid and we are proud that we got this far off our own backs and from our own pockets whilst holding down regular jobs. Everything was done with us donating our time and skills and for it to be sustainable and scalable. The original layout for 20,000 leaflets was the only cost apart from the web domain, and the tech and design skills we already had.
From what we know, it takes a lot of money to run a campaign if you're actually paying people and need to pay for everything you do. But when you see genuine grassroots movements that take off like Don't Pay, you understand that the amount of people who want to do stuff for free and offer their skills just grows exponentially. That is what we are reliant on.
We're now sending out hundreds of thousands of stickers and leaflets every week at cost price so they're as cheap as possible for everyone who wants some. And the money for things like web hosting, printing and postage are covered by hundreds of ordinary people who've donated.
Why do we need to get organised?
We are facing an absolutely huge social crisis that will affect millions of us if we don’t act now. If the projections are true, that means 1 in 3 of us will be in fuel poverty by the winter. We cannot afford to let that happen. That is why we need to build a strong and powerful movement that would be able to challenge the Government, the Energy Industry and OfGem if they go ahead with this huge hike.
To do that we think getting organised locally, with the people you know, in your area is the best way to make sure this movement takes off and is prepared to act.
What is a non-payment campaign?
A non-payment campaign is when people collectively commit to not paying a bill or charge. One example would be the resistance to the Poll Tax: more than 17 million people refused to pay and it became impossible for the government to force people to pay. Even then many people were scared to act and not pay the tax. But as confidence grew and local Poll Tax Groups were formed to support each other, it became socially acceptable to not pay. Tens of thousands of liability orders were issued forcing people to pay - but people refused and eventually the Poll Tax was scrapped.
A more recent example was the non-payment campaign against Southern Water in Kent in 2020 after they were fined £90 million for dumping raw sewage into the sea. Outraged by those costs being passed onto consumers, a non-payment campaign took off and eventually residents won by getting 50% taken off their bills.
Should I stop paying right now?
You can do whatever you want, but we are saying to people that there is safety in numbers. If we all get this right, and act together then the impact would be felt massively. Of course many people are already unable to pay - which is why it’s necessary to take action and fight back together. What we are saying is let's face this all together and let's be prepared to do the same thing from the same date rather than be picked off and face this alone.
What will happen if we don't do this?
We know the Government won't step in and give people the support they need unless they are forced to. The Government's original response was a £200 'gift' that we had to pay back next year. They were forced to back down and announced £37 billion in packages. This was pretty much a subsidy to the big oil and gas energy generators and was heavily criticised. Energy companies aren't going to reduce prices out of the kindness of their hearts. We can't expect anyone apart from ourselves to do what's needed to force action on the cost of living.
National Energy Action (NEA) estimates 11,400 winter deaths are already caused by cold every year. By this winter, 6.3 million households won't be able to afford their energy bills. Tens of million households will be in 'fuel stress', meaning they spend more than 10% of income on energy bills alone. Citizens Advice says that self-disconnections are up eight-fold, with at least 3,600 self-disconnections between January and May this year already - meaning thousands of people simply don't have access to gas and electricity because it's too expensive.
The stakes couldn't be any higher. If we do nothing, the risks to us are huge. Doing nothing becomes riskier than doing something - and that something is a powerful strategy to resist what we are facing.
How do I participate if I’m on a pre-payment meter?
There are many different ways to support the strike if you're on a pre-payment meter, but you won't be able to join the non-payment strike itself. If you don't pay while on a pre-payment meter, you'll be disconnected once your credit runs out - so we won't be asking people on a pre-payment meter to withhold payment.
We still need people on pre-payment meters to get involved however and we do not want a divided movement where people do not see themselves involved - everyone needs to be involved. This could mean distributing leaflets, setting up local groups, posting on social media and convincing others to get involved.
Won't they just cut off my gas and electricity?
It'll be extremely difficult for energy suppliers to do so on a mass scale - but it is possible and you should know how the energy companies may respond if millions of us withhold payment.
Energy supply disconnections for non-payment are already extremely rare - as few as 8 in 2018 were reported. This is because certain rules govern energy suppliers' behaviour in non-payment cases:
If you haven't paid your bill after 28 days, your supplier may contact you about the possibility of disconnecting your gas or electricity supply. Their first port of call will be to try to install a prepayment meter.
Before any further action can be taken, though, they must give you a chance to pay your debt through a payment plan.
The guidance says that, if you can’t reach an agreement with your supplier on clearing your debt, they can apply to a court for a warrant to enter your home to disconnect you. If you have a smart energy meter then your supplier could be able to disconnect the supply remotely without needing to access it, but they'll first need to have visited your home to do an assessment of your personal situation and the potential impact of disconnection.
We'll only go ahead with the non-payment strike if we have power in numbers. So, if energy suppliers decide to try to disconnect people, they'll be forced to first contact thousands, tens of thousands or even more customers about the possibility of disconnecting supply - but only after 28 days have passed. Then they'll have to give a chance to set up a payment plan before, in most cases, applying to a court for a warrant. It'll cause paralysis and create a months-long backlog.
We are very clear in that everyone that pledges to strike also pledges to defend the strike and that means protecting and supporting each other that are threatened by debt collectors. We will look after each other in this movement and build the solidarity to do that.
Can my landlord evict me if I don’t pay my energy bills?
Unless your energy bills are included in your rent, your landlord should have nothing to do with your energy bills. It's an agreement between you and your energy supplier, so your landlord will only know if you haven't paid if you tell them. If your energy bills are included in your rent, you won't have a choice about paying your bills unless you don't pay your rent, in which case your landlord could decide to evict you for being in rent arrears.
Will striking affect my credit score?
Your energy bills aren't a loan, so missing payments aren't certain to affect your credit score in the same way. But some suppliers do report missed payments to credit agencies, so in those cases it's possible that there will be consequences to your credit score.
If you are worried about your credit score, remember that energy suppliers can't take any action if you make a payment within 28 days. It would still devastate a company's cashflow if thousands of people cancelled their direct debits and paid a few weeks later, with no consequences to the strikers.
When prices go up and our energy usage increases over winter, millions of us will miss payments whether it affects our credit score or not. It's important we take action together to stop it getting to that stage.
We also must remember that the whole nature of the economy runs off debt and if more and more people are unable to access credit then there is also a substantial risk the credit system that would also need intervention.
Will striking affect my mortgage repayments?
Your mortgage amount, interest rate, and monthly repayments are contractually agreed with your bank or building society. If you stop paying your energy bills, that won't have any effect on your mortgage.
Credit score is taken into account when applying for a new mortgage, or remortgaging. It's important that everyone understands what the risks are. However, we're already in a situation in which people are having to miss bills so they can pay their rent or mortgages. And with interest rates rising to 1.75% those on variable mortgages will also be feeling another rise in outgoings.
How do I get more involved?
Sign up on the website as an organiser and we will put you in contact with a group in your postcode area. If there are no groups in your area yet, you will be soon able to create your own group to get others to join it. Everyone can order or print leaflets from the website and start getting the message out, don't wait on us - just go ahead and get active.