Not paying energy bills will cause people "all sorts of problems", the chairman of Utilita has warned, as the energy price cap is forecast to hit £4,200 in January.
Derek Lickorish told the BBC that energy firms "will not be in a position to subsidise the bills" and called on the government to introduce a social tariff to help the poorest households heat their homes this winter.
"The energy retailers will not be in a position to subsidise the bills, there is not the financial resilience in those businesses and that is why the changes have been made to the price cap to stop that happening," he told the Today programme.
"The people not paying their bills, I certainly don’t recommend that people do that. It’s going to cause them all sports of problems, but I recognise why they are doing that."
His comments come as support grows for the Don't Pay UK movement, a campaign that calls on the government to scrap energy price rises or face one million people cancelling their direct debits.
Refusing to pay energy bills will push up costs for all, the energy regulator has warned, ahead of an expected leap in average household bills which will deepen the cost of living crisis. Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, urged households not to take part in a growing civil disobedience campaign, as he blamed Russia for soaring wholesale gas costs.
'We need to put together a social tariff'
On Tuesday, the energy consultancy firm Cornwall Insight warned the price cap could breach £4,200 in January, meaning the average household will be paying £355 per month for energy, instead of £164 a month currently.
Mr Lickorish called for the government to introduce a social tariff to help the poorest households in Britain pay their bills, despite the proposal already being rejected by government figures.
"We need to be deciding how we are going to put together a social tariff. They may have rejected it already (but) I haven’t heard of any better approach."
"It has to be a properly funded social tariff by the Treasury. Yes that will cause more borrowing, but it absolutely is something that, in my opinion, is now essential, if we are to take the stress out of this for the poorest."