Budget must provide energy hardship support, as winter approaches

first_imgBudget must provide energy hardship support, as winter approaches 30 April 2021Ahead of the May budget, ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support to people on low incomes in energy hardship made worse by COVID-19.The number of customers in energy debt increased 32% to over 170,000 in 12 months to December 2020, with the average debt rising by 27% to $1,008. Debt is likely to get worse over the coming months. Income support payments have been cut, rents have gone up, eviction moratoriums have ended, at the same time as energy debt deferral safeguards begin to end.ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said “People living on $44 a day have little hope of repaying a $1,000 energy debt, and will struggle to afford their next energy bill.“To date most people have had some safety net with COVID-19 financial supports and the ability to defer energy debt, but this is all coming to an end and the consequences for some people as we go into winter are dire.“We know people on low-incomes are already depriving themselves of energy by not heating their homes and going without food or medicines to be able to afford their energy bills, which is seriously affecting their health and wellbeing.“We need to nip this in the bud before debt spirals out of control and becomes unmanageable.“The Government should use the Budget as an opportunity to create a fairer future – not leave people behind in crisis, including being stuck in energy debt and freezing through winter.“We are calling on the Federal Government to provide financial support of up to $1,000 per customer experiencing payment difficulties via an emergency payment.“As this measure will help relieve debt for energy retailers, we expect retailers to also step up and provide additional relief to those customers with debt greater than $1,000, and help customers reduce their bills going forward.”AER Data shows:• The number of residential gas and electricity customers in debt at the end of December 2020 has increased 32% in 12 months. From 147,098 December 2019 to 171,329 December 2020.• Average residential gas and electricity debt at the end of December 2020 was $1,008, which steadily increased from $796 for the same period the previous year. /Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here. Why?Well, unlike many news organisations, we have no sponsors, no corporate or ideological interests. We don’t put up a paywall – we believe in free access to information of public interest. Media ownership in Australia is one of the most concentrated in the world (Learn more). Since the trend of consolidation is and has historically been upward, fewer and fewer individuals or organizations control increasing shares of the mass media in our country. According to independent assessment, about 98% of the media sector is held by three conglomerates. This tendency is not only totally unacceptable, but also to a degree frightening). Learn more hereWe endeavour to provide the community with real-time access to true unfiltered news firsthand from primary sources. It is a bumpy road with all sorties of difficulties. We can only achieve this goal together. Our website is open to any citizen journalists and organizations who want to contribute, publish high-quality insights or send media releases to improve public access to impartial information. You and we have the right to know, learn, read, hear what and how we deem appropriate.Your support is greatly appreciated. All donations are kept completely private and confidential.Thank you in advance!Tags:Australia, Australian Council of Social Service, covid-19, crisis, electricity, Emergency, energy, Federal, federal government, food, future, gas, Government, Safety, social services, wellbeinglast_img read more

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