Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Low-income Australian families 'battle energy bills'

LOW-income families are buckling under the strain of rising energy bills, a leading social welfare charity says.

Anglicare Sydney has recorded a sharp increase in the number of people seeking emergency aid to help meet household energy costs, which have risen 17.3 per cent since July.

Low-income families are under the highest pressure, Anglicare's director of advocacy Sue King said in a statement.

"Anglicare Sydney has given out $10,000 more in assistance for energy bills in the first quarter of this financial year compared with the same time last year,'' she continued.

"The increase in the amount of energy assistance distributed directly relates to the increase in electricity prices.''

It comes as the NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman confirmed many customers are now facing financial hardship because of rising energy bills, with a steady stream of complaints about large arrears and disconnections.

Ombudsman Clare Petre revealed there had been an eight per cent increase in complaints from customers facing disconnection during the last financial year.

There was an 18 per cent increase from customers who had been disconnected due to financial hardship.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/money/cost-of-living/low-income-australian-families-battle-energy-bills/story-fnagkbpv-1226196732635#ixzz1d1vhMVWH

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