Energy providers put more money into hardship schemes as power prices rise

Richard Whitten 29 June 2017

Frustrated man calculates energy bills

The number of Australians unable to pay energy bills is expected to rise as price hikes hit from 1 July.

With major energy price hikes starting from 1 July, Australian energy consumers are about to feel a sharp pain in their hip pockets. To help customers who can’t pay their bills, Australian energy providers are expanding their hardship assistance programs.

EnergyAustralia this month announced it was putting $10 million into its hardship scheme, a five-fold increase of its usual amount. Many state governments are also expanding their own hardship policies. Western Australia last week increased its energy assistance payment for eligible residents by $66.

What is hardship assistance?

Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep on top of power bills. Energy providers recognise this and run hardship assistance programs to help people pay their bills. State governments also offer relief, rebates and concessions for people on lower incomes who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

Hardship assistance schemes offered by energy providers

Most providers offer some form of hardship assistance policy or program. Here are the schemes of some of Australia's major energy providers:

Energy providerScheme nameConditions/Details
AGLStaying Connected
  • Get personalised assistance from a dedicated team.
  • AGL will create a repayment plan tailored to your needs.
EnergyAustraliaEnergyAssist
  • Your account is protected from credit collection and debt recovery, meaning your power won’t be cut off.
  • Get a personalised repayment plan.
OriginPower On
  • Origin will help reschedule your energy bills and work with you to pay them off in regular, sustainable amounts.
  • Get advice on cutting your power bills and financial counselling.
Click EnergyFinancial Hardship Policy Program
  • Click will review your usage and offer extended payment terms.
  • Flexible payments and bill smoothing are available.
Red EnergyRed Energy Hardship Policy
  • Get ongoing support from Red Energy’s customer care team.
  • Credit Evenpay is a tailored payment option for struggling customers.
  • Energy audits help you reduce your energy consumption.
PowershopON
  • Get relief from debt recovery and disconnection.
  • Renegotiate your power plans and get discounts if you stick to repayment commitments.
Dodo Power and GasEnergy Assistance Program
  • Dodo will help you agree on a new power plan and assess your current situation.
  • Dodo will suspend disconnection and debt recovery.
Momentum EnergyKeeping Momentum
  • Momentum will review your contract, give you energy efficiency tips and offer payment extensions.

Government hardship assistance schemes in your state

Each state government has its own range of financial assistance options for people who can’t pay their bills.

Note that government rebates and concessions typically require the recipient to have a valid concession or health care card, or meet a means test. Here are the available concessions and rebates in each state:

NSW residents may be eligible for the following rebates/concessions:

  • Low Income Household Rebate
  • Family Energy Rebate
  • Gas Rebate
  • Medical Energy Rebate
  • Energy Accounts Payment Assistance vouchers

Read more about energy assistance in NSW here.

Victorian residents may be eligible for the following rebates/concessions:

  • Winter Gas Concession
  • Medical Cooling Concession
  • Annual Electricity Concession (a year-round discount for residents with concession cards)
  • Life Support Concession

Learn more about Victorian energy rebates here.

Residents of Queensland may be eligible for the following rebates/concessions:

  • Electricity Rebate
  • Home Energy Emergency Assistance scheme
  • Electricity Life Support Concession

Get more information about Queensland energy assistance here.

South Australian residents may be eligible for the following rebates/concessions:

  • Energy bill concession
  • Medical heating and cooling concession
  • Cost of living concession
  • Residential park resident concession
  • Home dialysis electricity concession

If you live in Tasmania you may be eligible for the following rebates/concessions:

  • Annual Electricity Concession
  • Heating Allowance
  • Life Support Concession
  • Medical Cooling Concession
People in Western Australia should look at their government's Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS).
There is an Energy Concession covering electricity and gas for residents of the ACT.

If you're looking to cut down on your power bills you can start by comparing energy plans to try and get a better power deal. You can also look at reducing your energy consumption with our energy saving tips.

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