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What to do when energy is unaffordable

As winter approaches it is of increasing importance that anybody struggling with their gas or electricity bills seeks assistance.

A report released in April from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) revealed that paid workers were just as likely as the unemployed or pensioners to be disconnected from their electricity, gas, or water.

As well as this, the Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA NSW) released figures from a survey identifying the elderly as particularly vulnerable to struggles with electricity price rises.

When a number of people over 50 were surveyed, results showed that 74 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that rising energy prices would affect their ability to live comfortably as years go by.

91 per cent of respondents also agreed or strongly agreed that they would like to find out more about rebates for energy use that may be available.

Make It Cheaper says those vulnerable to not being able to pay their energy bills need to be recognised with assistance from the government, their retailers, and their community.

Electricity prices have doubled in the past five years, and we've conducted research which shows that around 50 to 60 per cent of Australians don’t pay their electricity bill on time. They can't afford to, so they wait for that reminder notice,

That's around 50 per cent of people being pushed to the point of potentially not being able to afford their bill.

Once you have not paid your power bill for one or two months, you are getting pretty close to disconnection.

Therefore, there's a responsibility on behalf of the government to understand why customers are defaulting on their bills and cannot afford to pay, and how to assist them and reduce the occurrences of this happening.

Customers who are struggling with electricity prices and bills should contact their energy retailer to discuss the problem, as acting early will make the process easier and help to avoid disconnection.

If you're a consumer and you're facing a high bill, and it looks like it's going to be unaffordable, you need to talk to your retailer and you need to put in place a payment plan,

Retailers will put in place a payment plan to help consumers, because they do realise consumers are in a tough position at times.

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