Help for energy consumers in hardship

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6 November, 2019

Need help to pay your electricity or gas bills? 

You have rights. 

Stronger protections are now available to households having trouble paying their energy bills. The Australian Energy Regulator has taken action to assist vulnerable customers experiencing payment difficulties by introducing an enforceable Customer Hardship Policy Guideline. 

Energy retailers have important responsibilities in helping vulnerable customers. The Guideline requires energy retailers to provide consistent minimum standards of assistance, ensure hardship programs are easily accessible and put processes in place to identify customers who may need help. 

Customers participating in a hardship program will get access to different payment options, help finding a better energy plan, tips on energy efficiency, and information about government concessions, relief schemes, energy rebates and financial counselling services. 

Other help may also be available – All energy providers have a hardship policy that tells you how they can assist you if you are having trouble paying your energy bills due to hardship. You can find it on their website or ask them to post you copy. 

If you are in a hardship program and meetings its conditions your energy provider cannot disconnect you. 

If paying your utility bills is a struggle call your energy retailer and talk to them about your situation, you may be surprised by the help that is available.

For more information, visit the Australian Energy Regulator’s website at www.aer.gov.au/consumers/my-energy-bill/help-for-customers-in-hardship.

When life is tough call Affordable SA 1800 025 539 or visit www.affordablesa.com.au or download the app AffordableSA for free, confidential and independent support to 'get in the know' with services that can best help you.

More From 'News Articles'

Financial Abuse - What is it?

In Australia, 15 out of every 100 women and 7 out of every 100 men experience financial abuse.

Financial abuse often occurs alongside other forms of domestic violence, such as physical, sexual and psychological abuse. It is reported that up to 9 out of 10 women who access domestic violence services have experienced financial abuse.

Who can be a perpetrator of financial abuse?

- Partners, husbands, wives, girlfriends or boyfriends (including exes)

- Carers or paid support workers

- Parents, guardians or other family members

- Adult children

- Other people you live with or see often

What are some of the signs of financial abuse?

- Has someone stopped, or attempted to stop you from accessing your bank account?

- Has someone stopped, or attempted to stop you from working or studying?

- Has someone refused to contribute financially to the household, or does contribute but not enough to cover basic household living expenses?

- Has someone pressured you to sign up for loans, credit cards, consumer leases, pay day loans or utility accounts in your name?

- Has someone damaged, stole or sold your property without your permission?

- Has someone stopped, or attempted to stop you from using social media, your mobile phone, internet or the family car?

- Has someone made you feel like you cannot manage money on your own?

If you, or someone you know, answered yes to any of the above questions it is important to speak to someone about the situation.

Who do I contact?

- 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) – 24 Hour counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.

- National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007 – Free, confidential and independent service provided by Financial Counsellors who can guide you through your options to help you plan your way out of debt

For more information about financial abuse, see the attached video from 1800 Respect

For more information about domestic violence, see the attached link to the Domestic Violence section of the Affordable SA App

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Back to school No Interest Loans

Back to school costs are no longer just about uniforms and stationery.

Over the last decade the emphasis on the technology used for education has meant kids require more access to laptops and mobile devices as part of their every day learning. This has meant a huge increase in schooling costs and puts even more pressure on parents finding it hard to cope with cost of living pressures.

Computers and mobile devices are now by far the most significant part of schooling costs for many families and finding the money at this time of the year can send people spiralling into more debt. Many will still have outstanding bills from Christmas.

How can you pay for your kids essential learning needs without sinking further into debt or needing to think about other forms of loans that may cost you a lot more?

Have you heard of NILS? The No Interest Loans Scheme run by Good Finance loans has helped many families to purchase white goods and household items such as fridges and washing machines without paying any interest or charges. No interest, no charges at all! Now the Good Finance NILS is available to help with your back to school needs including computer and text books.

Low Income earners and people in hardship can access this help.

No interest loans are the best and cheapest way for people on low incomes to cover household expenses and necessities, you only repay what you borrow, so you don’t get caught in a cycle of borrowing and debt.

To apply for a no interest loan, visit nils.com.au to find your nearest provider or check out more about NILS and other assistance available in South Australia see the Affordable SA App (download free on Apple and Google play) and website [www.affordablesa.com.au](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/) or ring the [Affordable SA Helpline](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/affordable-sa-helpline) on 1800 025 539.

By [Graeme](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/team/graeme-hinckley)

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