The cost of living crisis has been wiped from the headlines of the national media by the death of Queen Elizabeth, but one campaign is still working steadily to organise Bristolians in resistance.
Don’t Pay UK is a national campaign encouraging people to cancel their energy bills en masse in protest against rising fuel costs which will plunge millions of households into fuel stress and even poverty this winter. The campaign organisers say the pay strike will not begin until they have obtained pledges from one million people.
On Friday, September 23, Don’t Pay co-host an open evening at the Bristol Central Quaker Meeting House where they will be joined by Bristol Energy Network and fellow national cost of living campaign Enough is Enough, who have their own Bristol launch event on Tuesday.
Friday’s event brings RMT regional organiser Brendan Kelly to discuss how unions are organising against rising costs, Rachel Moffat of Bristol Energy Network will advise on how to get help with energy saving, and an organiser from the Bristol Don’t Pay group will speak about the campaign.
Speaking to TBA, a member of a Bristol Don’t Pay group said that they and others have already cancelled direct debit energy payments because they simply can’t afford to pay.
Working in the charity sector, the Bristol group member said that they had seen the impact of rising bills on ordinary people. ‘People were surviving before but they’re not even surviving anymore,’ they said.
They said that Don’t Pay is not a political group and it doesn’t matter if you’re politically left or right. Many members in Bristol have no prior experience of activism, they said.
‘It’s just gone beyond any sense of justice,’ they said, adding ‘we’re funding corporations’ pockets and billionaires’ pockets.’
Don’t Pay UK had originally hoped to reach one million pledges by October 1. According to their website they are currently at 200,000 and the start date is predicted to be postponed until the end of November.
October 1 will be marked, however, by public outreach events and the Bristol group will be present at Bristol Central Quaker Meeting House between 11am and 1pm for a drop-in session for anyone curious about the campaign.
The national campaign has three demands:
- Reverse the energy price cap to April 2021 level.
- End all enforcement of pre-payment meters, which are often used by the poorest but result in higher tariffs.
- No-one cold this winter, via an emergency social energy tariff which would mean those on lower incomes pay a lower unit price for energy than wealthier people.
Bristol reportedly has seven Don’t Pay groups, communicating via WhatApp postcode groups. The entire campaign is organised in a decentralised way and individual groups coordinate their own events, outreach, flyering and door-knocking.