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Don’t Pay: Campaign for ‘energy bills strike’ gathers pace as companies celebrate record profits

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Anonymous campaigners have stepped up calls for consumers withhold energy bill payments after gas and oil firms celebrated record profits this week amid the cost of living crisis.

The Don’t Pay campaign urging millions to join the “mass non-payment strike” when fees are hiked again on 1 October.

The campaign is run by several anonymous activists and was launched in mid-June.

They said on Friday they had seen an upwell of support and would “scaling up hugely”, adding: “This movement is taking off.”

“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,” says the organisation on the website.

“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 mortgages.”

Energy regulator Ofgem is set to increase its price cap by as much as £1,800, the maximum a gas or electricity provider can charge.

The hike is predicted to increase the public’s annual bills to around £3,800 by the beginning of 2023.

“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,” Don’t Pay says website.

“We want to bring them to the table and force them to end this crisis.”

The group is inspired by the resistance to the poll tax in 1989, when more than 17 million people refused to pay the divisive tax introduced by Margaret Thatcher.

Increased support for the campaign comes after oil company Shell reported record profits of $11.5bn, doubling its earnings in a single year.

This is an increase from $5.5bn in April to June 2021 – a $6bn increase in profits – and an up from $9.1bn in the first quarter of 2022.

British Gas owner Centrica, the UK’s largest energy supplier, posted a fivefold increase in its haf-year profits to £1.3bn.

The company’s profits for the six months to the end of June were a hefty increase on earnings compared to the £262m recorded in the same period last year.

The announcement comes as Citizens Advice revealed the number of people reporting that they cannot afford to top up their energy meters had trebled in July compared with the same time last year.

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