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Friday 26 February 2016

Better electricity rebate support will be needed to ensure disconnections don’t skyrocket if the cost of electricity rises again following the Australian Competition Tribunal’s decision on electricity prices according to the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS).

NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said the decision, which could result in an increase to electricity prices, would be a huge blow to people experiencing poverty and families on low incomes who can’t afford another rise to already high electricity prices.

“Electricity is an essential service. It is not an expense people can easily avoid and rising prices have put increasing pressure on households.

“31,979 households in NSW were disconnected from their electricity last financial year, we must be doing everything we can to see that number reduce.

“If prices rise we must make sure households struggling to make ends meet are getting the support they need, when they need it.”

Ms Howe said that while the NSW Government did a good job offering a range of rebate options, more could be done to ensure fluctuations in electricity prices were more manageable for people on low incomes.

“Households are experiencing acute cost-of-living pressures yet many concessions are not keeping pace with prices rises, they are not well targeted and many households simply miss out.

“In the short term, the best way to assist people struggling with energy bills is to make concessions reflect the actual bill, through a percentage-based rebate system.

“Our rebate system must start recognising that some people have unavoidably high energy needs and provide them with a higher rebate to reflect actual costs.

“When concessions work they not only ease the cost-of-living pressures experience by low income households, but can also circumvent vicious cycles of debt and further disadvantage.”