Households having electricity disconnected due to inability to pay the bills

More households are finding it increasingly difficult to pay their bills due to an increase in electricity prices and some are even having their electricity disconnected.

Andy Marks of the St Vincent de Paul Society told the Sydney Morning Herald that 50 per cent of cases he saw of households needing help involved electricity bills, outstripping housing problems as the main area of distress.

Marks said affordability in general is the main issue. Because all prices are rising, including food and transport, households may have less money left over to pay the electricity bill - which may also have risen.

Complaints to the Energy and Water Ombudsman Clare Petre have increased since the privatisation of energy retailers previously owned by the state government.

As a result, there is increasing pressure being placed on the NSW state government to increase assistance to households in financial distress.

The state government already has a scheme that provides vouchers distributed through welfare organisations, but this system has its flaws, with supply of vouchers not meeting demand.

The efficiency of the system is under review by the government, with comparisons being made between the different assistance mechanisms in Western Australia, Victoria and NSW.

Posted by Charlie Moore