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'

Pay Day Loans during a Pandemic

Unscrupulous Pay Day Lenders have been caught out using the current global pandemic to market their products.

With many Australian’s facing ongoing financial uncertainty, some day pay day lenders have come to the party offering quick, short term loans to ease the financial stress brought on by COVID-19.

As a financial counsellor, this makes my skin crawl.

Along with paying back the original amount, pay day lenders also charge high interest rates, lender’s fees, defer payment fees, default fees, etc.

Within my role, I have seen pay day loans snowball into more than triple the amount originally borrowed.

If you are struggling financially and you need funds to pay for an expense, there are alternative options available.

Other options include:

- [NILS (No Interest Loan)](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/no-interest-loans-scheme-nils)

- [Speckle Loan](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/speckle-loans)

- [Step Up Loan](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/stepup-loan)

- [Household Relief Loan](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/household-relief)

If you are struggling to afford essential living expenses, it may also be worthwhile booking an appointment with a financial counselor to discuss your options. To book a free appointment, call the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 359 or search for [Financial Counselling](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/financial-counselling-services) at the Affordable SA website.

For more information about how pay day lenders are targeting vulnerable Australians, see the attached article from ABC news.

By [Sam](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/team/sam)

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