NCOSS recently completed a major project looking at how the high, and rising, cost of energy is impacting vulnerable households in NSW. Our Cost of Living report provided a stark and sobering picture. We heard that 19% of children living in low-income households are going without food, and 33% of low-income households are going without medical treatment in order to pay their energy bills. Families are sacrificing hot water for bathing, not heating their homes, and going to bed early in an effort to reduce their costs.
Our report also set out a comprehensive set of practical policy recommendations that would help to address the long term issue of energy affordability in NSW.
In September the NSW Government announced a number of measures in response to the 20% rise in retail electricity prices hitting NSW households from 1 July this year. NCOSS welcomes this interim response to the urgent need to better support low-income households to access essential energy services. However, the response to date does not address the structural issues with energy affordability in NSW, and does not go far enough to support those who need it most. NCOSS will continue to advocate for much needed, fundamental reform. Central to this is the move to a rebate system based on a percentage of a household bill. This would ensure more assistance reaches those who need it most, regardless of the causes of their high energy costs.
The NSW Audit office released a report on 19 September that highlights the lack of equity in the current rebate system and provides strong, independent support for the structural reforms NCOSS is recommending, that would more effectively target substantial support to those who need it most.
As part of our ongoing advocacy, NCOSS made a submission to the recent NSW Parliament Legislative Council Select Committee inquiry into Electricity Supply, Demand and Prices in NSW, highlighting a range of issues with the retail electricity market in NSW, and providing a comprehensive set of practical recommendations. You can read the full NCOSS submission here
What can you do?
NCOSS recently released our Pre-Budget Submission 2018-19, which included recommendations focussing on improving the cost of energy for vulnerable households with low incomes. NCOSS has developed a range of advocacy tools to help you make change happen, and we encourage all members to get involved and help support our campaign.
For more information on the NCOSS energy affordability recommendations or energy and cost of living advocacy more broadly, contact firstname.lastname@example.org