Aussies fed up with the increasing cost of living could be missing out on cheaper power bills, purely because they don’t know they’re eligible for concessions.
The Consumer Policy Research Centre this week released a study which estimated how many people across the country – with the exceptions of Western Australia and the Northern Territory – were actually seeking the benefits of concession or rebate schemes on their power bills.
The study found around 41 per cent of eligible residents in the ACT were receiving the concessions to which they were entitled. That ratio works out to be two in five people.
In the ACT, a utility subsidy for concession card holders is worth $750 a year.
The negative trend continued in South Australians, where 38 per cent of eligible people simply weren’t receiving rebates they could be using.
SA rebates up to $242 a year are available for people experiencing financial hardship, which is an increase of almost $10 from last year due to indexation.
More than a third of eligible residents in NSW were also missing out on rebates, with 35 per cent of residents going without the discounts.
A Low Income Household Rebate was introduced in NSW to help low-income earners cover the increasing costs of electricity bills.
Eligible households can receive the rebate as a credit on quarterly energy bills, worth up to $285 a year.
Queenslanders are also missing out, with 29 per cent of those able to get the rebates missing out on $453 for gas and electricity – $372 for electricity and $80 for gas per year.
In Tasmania, 19 per cent of residents eligible for a one-off winter assistance package missed out.
But in Victoria, 93 per cent are estimated to have claimed concession on electricity bills, and 88 per cent claimed gas bill concessions with another 78 per cent on water.
The Consumer Police Research Centre (CPRC) said the figure was likely an underestimation of just how many Aussies actually did miss out.
They revealed consumers are losing out on discounts because they don’t understand the money saving schemes.
“Rather than being automatically applied to bills, the onus lies with eligible concession holders to ensure their concession is applied and updated on each bill, or to apply for the rebate directly,” the CPRC website says.
“CPRC welcomes the opportunity to work further on this issue with government, regulators, policy makers, academia and the community sector.”
As gas prices are forecast to rise by another 40 per cent, it’s likely people will continue to struggle to pay their soaring bills.
Estimates in the federal budget warned energy bills could also rise by more than 50 per cent in the next two years.
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers said increasing prices were part of inflation across the nation, and admitted he wasn’t sure when people could expect the costs to start dropping.
“There’s no use pretending otherwise … we’ll have these challenges ahead of us for a little bit longer than we’d like, that’s why the cost of living relief is so important,” Mr Chalmers told ABC TV.
Further funding for climate and environment efforts can indirectly bring down the prices too.
“Renewable energy isn’t just cleaner energy, it’s cheaper energy as well,” Mr Chalmers said.
“There is more work to do when it comes to the electricity market, we do understand these electricity prices make it harder for Australians who are already under the pump.”
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