Calls growing for ‘consumer strike’ on energy bills – Martin Lewis

The financial expert says more help is needed for the poorest people during the cost-of-living crisis as they have the least financial resilience.

20 July 2022

The financial squeeze and surging prices are triggering growing calls for a “consumer strike” on energy bills, Martin Lewis has said.

The founder of the Money Saving Expert website warned the country was “getting close to a Poll Tax moment”, and that he was seeing increasing numbers of people calling for a mass non-payment of energy bills.

Annual household energy bills are set to rise further in October when the price cap goes up, having already risen by more than 50% in April.

Mr Lewis told ITV’s Peston programme: “The big movement that I am seeing is an increase of growth in people calling for a non-payment of energy bills, mass non-payment. Effectively a consumer strike on energy bills and getting rid of the legitimacy of paying that.”

He described the movement as “small at the moment”, but added: “We are getting close to a Poll Tax moment on energy bills coming into October and we need the Government to get a handle on that because once it starts becoming socially acceptable not to pay energy bills people will stop paying energy bills and you’re not going to cut everyone off.”

He said more help was needed for the poorest people as they have the least financial resilience.

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the programme: “People can’t pay so what do they do? Part of that political protest is about exposing the vulnerability that people have. People are very angry out there.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he made a point privately at the end of 2021 about the rise in national insurance, pointing out to Prime Minister Boris Johnson “we’re facing two juggernauts – we’re facing high cost of energy and we’re also increasing tax”.

He told ITV’s Peston: “Tax rates are set by us, they’re set by the Government and I never understood – of course I was bound by collective responsibility but it seemed a strange thing, people paying more for energy and increasing their tax load and that doesn’t make any sense.”

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