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2 September 2022

Energy bill strikes are gaining public support

More people support the non-payment of bills than oppose it.

By Ben Walker

High fuel bills and the soaring cost of living are causing major shifts in British public opinion. A number of movements have sought to capitalise on this feeling of national instability: Enough is Enough, which describes itself as a “campaign to fight the cost of living” is backed by both the trade unionist Mick Lynch and the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, and has held rallies across the country.

Another – Don’t Pay UK – is also gathering steam. More than 130,000 people, according to the campaign, have committed to a “strike” on fuel bills by cancelling their direct debits from 1 October, when the new energy price cap is implemented.

With even comfortably off households facing severe drops in disposable income, there is now a plurality – albeit a small one – in favour of the movement.

In a survey taken at the end of August, 41 per cent of UK adults told YouGov it would be acceptable for those who cannot afford to pay the rise in fuel bills to not do so.

Support is strongest among young people, among whom 58 per cent say it would be acceptable. Among those aged 50-64, however, a minority of 35 per cent say it would be acceptable to refuse to pay the rise in fuel bills.

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It is worth noting that the average household disposable income for young people is £26,000 a year, compared with £37,000 for those aged 50-64 (2017-18 figures).

[See also: Don't Pay UK: Meet the Brits refusing to pay their energy bills]

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