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"Can't pay, don't pay" - Italian group urges energy bill strike

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Italian PM Draghi addresses Senate in Rome

MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian consumer group has called for an energy bills strike, offering legal support to people unable or unwilling to pay skyrocketing gas and electricity prices amid the soaring cost of living, it said on Thursday.

The initiative from the Codacons body echoes a similar campaign in Britain where the 'Don't Pay' group is demanding a cut in bills to what it calls an affordable level.

Under an initiative dubbed "We'll pay when we can afford to," Italy's Codacons said it has made available on its website a form for customers to give energy suppliers notice they will pay only 20% of their bills.

The consumer group said households are facing a doubling of energy bills from the start of next month.

Italy is one of the country most exposed to Russia's cuts of gas supplies as Moscow supplied 40% of the gas Rome imported last year.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi's outgoing government has budgeted 52 billion euros ($51.9 billion) so far this year to shield firms and people from the impact of sky-high electricity, gas and petrol costs and plans to approve this week a further relief package worth around 13 billion euros.

The issue is also high on the agenda in the campaign for a national election on Sept 25. ($1 = 1.0012 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Keith Weir)