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I will no longer pay my energy bills | Inflation

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On October 1 this year I will stop paying my energy bills under Don’t Pay UK. That’s when an 80% increase in current tariffs will come into effect, the UK energy regulator confirmed on August 26.

I am one of 120,000 people who have joined this movement, which aims to raise the voices of ordinary UK residents who fear for their future as energy companies rake in huge profits.

I am not an activist and have never been a campaign organizer before. Don’t Pay UK is the perfect platform for me – we don’t block streets, we don’t stop anyone from getting to work. We are normal people.

I live in Hull and have a very typical family with a wife and two children, a little vanilla, actually. We have a boy and a girl; our youngest will be two next month and our oldest will be five. We had our children relatively young: I was 26 and she was 21 when we had our first.

I am an information technology consultant working for the public sector and my wife works in financial services. We are both very lucky – I got a raise in April and my wife started her job in January. We are paid much more than we would have ever thought at that time.

I worked my way up, starting with a junior project administration position and then working my way up to become a project manager. But the cost of living is slowly rising behind me – just as I’m getting to a point in my career where I’m doing really well.

At the same time that I got my raise, the price of food and energy jumped drastically. Our nurseryman has raised his prices. Everything is mounted. So we didn’t feel the salary increase. Almost every month we run out of money. We are still living check to check.

Every month, the week before payday, I find myself thinking about how we have leftover food; that we can’t go to the shops for a pint of milk.

We do not live lightly. My wife and I haven’t taken a vacation since we’ve been together – and we’re both living healthy lives. We don’t take the kids somewhere every month for an exotic experience. And yet, the cost of living catches up, every time something good happens. We simply cannot break this cycle.

Our landlord has a five year fixed mortgage and told us up front that he would not sell the house until the end of the term. So the clock is ticking – we have limited time to spare for a deposit. We take all the steps you expect to take in your thirties. But every time we try to save money, it just gets eaten up by energy bills, and we know it’s going to get worse. I already have a debt with my energy company, before the prices increased on October 1st. That’s because every three months in England, Scotland and Wales the maximum amount suppliers can charge is adjusted.

Regulators said the average energy bill will hit 3,549 pounds ($4,164) in October this year, up from 1,400 pounds ($1,642) a year ago. And in January 2023, it is expected to rise to 4,266 pounds ($5,005).

These higher prices mean exorbitant profits for energy companies like Centrica, Shell and BP. Shell reported second-quarter profits of $11.5 billion last month. BP made its biggest quarterly profit in 14 years.

But Shell paid no tax on its UK oil and gas production in 2021. Shell and BP also paid no corporation tax or production tax on the oil they bought in North Sea between 2018 and 2020.

We cannot continue to hand over our salaries to these companies so they can protect their profits and shareholder payouts, while thousands of people across the country die each year because they cannot heat or cool their homes. .

We know that there is a concerted effort on the part of this government to shift wealth and money from people – your average working-class, middle-class citizen – down to a small percentage of wealthy people. Look at the cuts in services over the past decade.

I know this is a global energy crisis, but we watch other governments and see them take action to look after their citizens. The French government has banned EDF in France from raising its prices by more than 4%. EDF in England was able to raise its prices by 54% in April and will be able to charge even more in October.

It’s as if in this country, wealth moves up the ladder and doesn’t trickle down. Average Britons pay extra to supplement the profits of energy companies.

That’s why it’s so important to join Don’t Pay UK. We must make this government understand that it can no longer gamble with our lives. The government will use scare tactics, trying to scare us into paying the bills. They will notify us that our credit rating is affected. But I know I can’t afford higher bills – my credit rating will already be affected.

Last winter, the British government offered people a measly loan of 200 pounds ($236) to pay their energy bills. More recently, the government announced a £400 ($472) grant to British families to pay their energy bills, while unveiling a one-off 25% tax on the profits of oil and gas companies. Yet he must do more.

What we want is for the government to bring the cap on energy prices down to something everyone can afford and introduce a bigger windfall tax for energy companies that are making record profits.

In the long term, the government can reduce bills by investing in insulation to reduce energy consumption and consider putting essential services like power and water into public hands. It’s essential. When billionaires profit from electricity and water, their motivation will always be to do the least to get the most. Energy companies will therefore want to raise prices every year.

The goal is to charge the consumer as much as possible – while spending the least on infrastructure and their workers – in order to maximize their profits.

The vast majority of us will be seriously affected by the rising cost of living – which means we have immense power if we act together in the millions. If we don’t unite, the bills will continue to rise. And we cannot exceed these bill increases.

Food banks in the UK are running out of food and turning people away. People have to choose between paying their energy bill or feeding their children. The Don’t Pay UK campaign is our last resort. It’s the only choice we have.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.