Updated: Apr 6
Everyone is feeling the squeeze and you can not turn on the TV/Radio or Web browser without coming across the cost of living crisis. Fuel and food costs and bills are all climbing causing inflation. There has been lots of talk recently about how to fix this cost of living crisis and combat rising prices. One of the movements to rise from this is the Don’t Pay UK campaign. In this blog we will be looking at what Don’t Pay UK is and what could happen if you follow their plans.
In April 2022, the price cap increased by £693 per year, the next increase, set for 1 October 2022, could cause energy prices to average £3,800 per year in 2023.
Who or What is Don't Pay UK?
Don't Pay UK is an advocacy group that is urging consumers to boycott paying their energy bills on the 1st of October. The group was founded by 15 to 20 activists in June 2022, and are trying to get 1 million people in the UK to pledge to cancel their payments to their energy providers. The group believes that this will be sufficient leverage to make energy companies decrease prices to a more affordable rate, they believe that these companies can not take action against every consumer if a high number of consumers follow the movement.
According to Don’t Pay UK, if they can convince 1 million people to sign their pledge and commit to canceling their payments to their energy providers, then a whopping £230 million will be withheld from energy companies each month that payments go unpaid. A spokesperson for the group said that it will be a "mass non-payment strike".
What could happen if I stop making my payments?
1 - you may incur extra fees
If you stop making your payments to your energy provider you may experience
Penalty fees. These fees will vary depending on who your provider is, You should be able to find out what fees you will be charged on their website.
EON charges £10 if a direct debit bill returns unpaid.
British Gas charges £13 if payment isn’t made within 28 days of the bill.
Bulb might charge an admin fee of £15 for your first missed payment, and then £20 for each missed payment that follows.
2 - It may negatively impact your credit score
Missing payments can affect your credit score, which can make it harder to be accepted for a range of products and services ranging from mortgages to mobile phone contracts.
3 - you can become blacklisted
If you have already missed payments in the past and miss enough payments to your energy provider your name can be blacklisted, which means that certain providers will refuse to accept you as a customer and will normally limit you to using specialist or more expensive providers.
4 - you may be forced to use a pre-payment meters
Energy suppliers could choose to enforce a pre-payment meter for your property if you refuse to make payments. This means that you will not have any energy to your property unless you top up your pre-payment meter and then you can only use that amount of energy until you top up your balance again.
5 - Your energy supply may be cut off
The energy company could also completely cut off the energy supply to your property meaning that you will lose the use of electricity completely until you settle your balance and start making your payment again. This would impact properties with no gas supply more as this would then mean that you would not be able to heat your property, you would lose hot water and cooking facilities would also be cut off.
6 - Energy providers could take legal action
If you start to default on your energy bills your energy provider has the right to take legal action against you. Your energy provider can get a county court judgment (CCJ) against you and can instruct bailiffs to retrieve the value of your debt from you in the form of property or cash. In extreme cases the court may even force a bankruptcy order, making you bankrupt.
There is no legal way for you to withhold payments to your energy supplier unless they have breached the terms of your contract with them. Generally, in these contracts there will be a term stating that your energy provider reserves the right to raise the cost per unit of energy in line with the Ofgem price caps. If you pay the disputed bill, the provider can still provide you with a refund should they be in the wrong.
If you are struggling with your bills, a good first step is the citizens advice bureaux, please see their information on what to do if you’re struggling to pay your bills - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/struggling-to-pay-your-energy-bills/