On October 1 this year, I will stop paying my energy bills as part of Don’t Pay UK. That’s when an 80 percent increase on current rates will kick in, the British energy regulator confirmed on August 26.
I’m among 120,000 people who have joined this movement, which aims to elevate the voices of ordinary residents of the United Kingdom who are scared for their futures while energy companies reap enormous profits.
I’m not an activist and I’ve never been an organiser in a campaign before. Don’t Pay UK is the ideal platform for me – we’re not blocking streets, we’re not stopping anyone from getting to work. We’re normal people.
I live in Hull and have a very typical family with a wife and two kids, a bit vanilla, actually. We have one boy and one girl; our youngest is turning two next month and our eldest is five. We had our children relatively young: I was 26 and she was 21 when we had our first.
I’m an information technology consultant working for the public sector and my wife works in financial services. We’re both very lucky – I had a pay rise in April and my wife started her job in January. We’re paid a lot better than we ever thought we would be at this point in time.
I worked my way through the ranks, starting in a junior project administration role, and moved up slowly to being a project manager. But the cost of living is creeping up 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 pay rise, the price of food and energy leapt drastically. Our nursery provider increased its prices. Everything went up. So we didn’t actually feel the pay rise. Practically every month we run out of money. We are still living pay cheque to pay cheque.
Each month, the week before payday, I find myself thinking about how we have scraps of food left; that we can’t go to the shops for a pint of milk.
We don’t live frivolously. My wife and I haven’t been on a holiday since we’ve been together – and we both live quite healthily. We don’t take the kids out somewhere each month for some exotic experience. And yet the cost of living catches up, every time something good happens. We just can’t break that cycle.
Our landlord has a five-year fixed mortgage, and has told us upfront that he won’t sell the house before the period is up. So the clock is ticking – we have a finite amount of time to save for a deposit. We’re taking all the steps you expect to make in your 30s. But every time we try to save any money, it just gets chewed up by energy bills, and we know it’s going to get worse. I’m already in debt to my energy company, before prices are set to go higher on October 1.
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(Source: Aljazeera, August 27-2022)