Energy price rises hitting low income Australians hardest
UnitingCare Australia has called on all parties involved to ensure people on low incomes have the capacity to pay for the energy they need to live a decent life.
National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said energy stress set in once people spent four per cent or more of their income on energy costs.
“But the latest household expenditure survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows people in the bottom half of income levels in Australia are spending more than ten per cent of their income on energy costs,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“This is clearly unsustainable.
“People in work with modest incomes are coming in increasing numbers to our financial counsellors and emergency relief services.
“Research undertaken by UnitingCare Australia earlier this year showed that one of the key drivers for the higher numbers of people accessing our services is ballooning energy costs.
“UnitingCare Australia has been working with regulators for a number of years now to ensure consumer issues are one of the guides for decision making.
“We are also engaged in an advisory role to the Australian Energy Regulator on consumer protection.
“Our advocacy networks and services work closely with the energy industry, the retailers and distributors, and our financial counsellors across the country work with energy retailers on policy, service delivery and customer support initiatives.
“The solution must be a shared response between State and Federal Government regulators, industry and the community.
“UnitingCare Australia is committed to ensuring everyone gets access to reasonable energy consumption at an affordable price.
“We are optimistic the Federal Government’s soon to be released Energy White Paper will address these urgent affordability issues,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
The UnitingCare network provides social services to over 2 million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. UnitingCare employs 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers.