Britons to burn their bills in weekend wave of cost of living protests

Demonstrators march from Downing Street to Trafalgar Square earlier this month to protest against rises in energy bills. Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

In a wave of cost-of-living demonstrations timed to coincide with the rise in gas and electricity unit prices that would lead bills to soar, UK homeowners are prepared to burn their utility bills on fire on Saturday.
Numerous rallies will be held from Plymouth to Aberdeen as part of what organizers predict will be the largest nationwide protests against the economic crisis, which this week worsened due to the chaos on the money market and the impending increase in mortgage rates. Postal and railway workers will also go on strike.
People are anticipated to burn their energy bills in Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, and London on the day the government’s $150 billion energy price guarantee takes effect, allowing average household bills to increase to £2,500 year from $1,971.

The supporters of Don’t Pay UK, a grassroots initiative that has gathered nearly 200,000 commitments from homeowners willing to cancel their direct debits until the government does more to safeguard the poorest households, are among those brandishing lighters.
In an effort to maximize impact, the protests are coordinated by numerous community organizations and labor unions. They arrive as families discuss whether turning on the heater is affordable as nighttime temperatures drop into the single digits.
The postal workers’ union, CWU, is supporting the Enough is Enough campaign, which is holding 28 rallies. Events are being held by the campaign group Don’t Pay in 18 towns and cities as it spreads through more than 400 WhatsApp groups. Other campaign organizations including Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil, and Extinction Rebellion are also participating.
“People are completely outraged about how severe and immediately material the effects will be on their living standards and how transparently unfair they are,” said Franklin Dawson, 29, a graduate student and part of a Don’t Pay group in Lewisham that has run a street stall in recent weeks. “People are upset about what this is doing to communities around them.”
Although the higher-rate income tax cuts implemented by Downing Street have caused confusion in the currency and bond markets, it is unclear whether the movement can exert political pressure comparable to that of the successful 1990 poll tax protests.
When one million individuals sign up, Don’t Pay plans to start a utility payment strike, however as of right now, it has only reached 20% of its goal. While some of the organizers are union or left-leaning political activists, folks who have never been to a demonstration are also attending. According to a campaign source, 33,000 people have offered to serve as organizers.
Carpenter Paul Bentick, 65, of Liverpool intends to attend his first protest when he joins the Enough is Enough march there. Despite being in a secure financial situation, he claimed to be demonstrating because “I feel for other people.” A cab driver told him about Enough is Enough.
“The working class gets pushed further and further,” he said. “It’s like Dickens’ days for some people. When they announced the tax cut it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Others, like 48-year-old welfare attorney Dan Manville from Manchester, are survivors of the 2010 anti-austerity demonstrations. “Our administration is stoking such a tremendous rift that I think it is time to take to the streets,” he stated.
On the other hand, when asked about individuals who intended to burn utility bills, he responded, “All strength to their arm, but my other half is a bit uncomfortable about not paying our gas payment. You simply can’t predict what will happen if you stop paying. However, she is more than glad for me to scream at the sky.
Facebook pages and Twitter feeds supporting the protests post stories with headlines like “Is the UK heading for a winter of social unrest? ” and advice on how to stop paying bills without ruining your credit ratings. ”
The array of protest organizations, according to Michael Chessum, a member of Cost of Living Action, a group working to unite campaigns, is “what occurs when a movement erupts into life.”
“A lot of this is going to be won and lost in the industrial disputes, but you have to build a big social movement, a mass mobilisation, too,” he said. “That’s what we’ll see on Saturday.”
On Wednesday night, a teacher, a pensioner, a social worker, and a student of psychotherapy met at the Wickham Arms in Brockley, south London, to organize Saturday’s activities for the neighborhood Don’t Pay group.
“It’s a frightening prospect for many families in Lewisham,” said Kirstie Paton, who said she has agreed with her husband to cancel their energy direct debit. She stressed the protests were also in solidarity with poorer people who are likely to be hit hardest. She is particularly worried about the more than 4m households using prepayment meters who will have to “self-disconnect” if they cannot afford the tariffs.
As for bill burning, she was coy: “We’ve asked people to bring their bills. What they do with them is up to them.”


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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