The throes of winter has many South Australians throwing on an extra blanket or two and bracing themselves for the expected bite from the costs of heating over the next few months. The last few years of higher energy prices has raised our anxiety of heating and cooling costs and is now the single most feared expense in the family's annual budget.
South Australians in particular are well adept at power consumption reduction around the house but there is only so much you can do regarding heating and power consumption to keep your family out of the cold. Many of us are facing the real prospect of disconnection because we simply do not have the money to pay. Even those with some financial capacity and or budgeting strategies can find paying the kilowatt costs hard. For those who do not have the ability to pay it can be a pretty cold shower of devastating reality. Who can they turn to for help?
Many struggling families have utilised the SA Government's Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme but Financial Counsellors are still finding some people unsure of what they are entitled to in regards to assistance or the types of assistance available. EEPS can be accessed if you are experiencing significant financial difficulties and have had your electricity disconnected or are at risk of disconnection. Payments of up to $400 for low-income households and applicants are available for an emergency electricity payment once every three years. The Scheme is only accessible through the assistance of financial counsellors, who will assess your financial situation before lodging an application. If you're in financial hardship and unsure about where you stand regarding access to assistance please ring the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539. The Helpline can help you understand the assistance available to you or provide an appointment to see a financial counsellor if needed.
The SA Government is one of the more generous of the states and territories regarding this emergency assistance. It is truly aimed at those in most need and under threat of disconnection but with access to the scheme only every three years if you qualify for the scheme one year you will need to consider major changes to manage the subsequent years between. Accessing a Financial Counsellor early may also help to stop you sinking into more debt.
There are other concessions for a range of circumstance such as Medical Heating and Cooling, Energy Bill Concessions, Energy Bill concessions for Asylum seekers and Cost of Living concessions. These can be accessed through contacting the Concessions Hotline on 1800 307 758 or go to https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/care-and-support/financial-support/concessions
Financial Counselling is free, confidential and independent. The National Debt Helpline is a not-for-profit, community based service that is available to people in Australia experiencing financial difficulty. South Australians ringing the national helpline will be transferred to a financial counsellor who knows and lives in South Australia, and is as local to the caller as possible. If you require assistance from a financial counsellor please contact the National Debt Help Line 1800 007 007 (Mon to Thurs: 9.30am–8pm and Friday: 9.30am-4.30pm) or go to the Affordable SA App or visit the Affordable SA website to see more information and the services available in South Australia that can be of assistance.
You can find more information on how to apply for EEPS call the Concessions Hotline or visit the sa.gov.au website or follow the links below.
When you scroll through the extensive list of Christmas hampers that are available online, it becomes extremely apparent that you have little to no choice about what brands or products go into each hamper.
Can you justify paying $30 or more each fortnight for a whole year for full priced items you did not choose yourself?
As an alternative option, we have put our thinking caps on to help you design your very own DIY Christmas hamper.
We have all seen the image on television and in magazines of a dinner table that has been beautifully laid out with red, green and gold decorations, covered in enough food to feed a football team. The family seated at the table are dressed like they are going to visit the Queen and are laughing, probably at something the dog has done. The image has blurry edges to give it that warm, cosy, festive feeling as the advertisement reveals to the audience that for a small fortnightly payment all the food on the table could be yours this Christmas.
At first glance, a Christmas hamper seems both convenient and ‘value for money’, but if we get down to the nitty-gritty of it…is a Christmas hamper really worth it?
Before you consider signing up for next year, take a look at the list we created of ‘Things to think about before you sign up for a Christmas hamper’.
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](https://outlook.office.com/owa/redir.aspx?REF=CVjY0EEewpzFGhBVoOuq7C_Xb4rSpSeCBjgQoJ4-QUPr7PrKRWLXCAFodHRwOi8vd3d3LmFlci5nb3YuYXUvY29uc3VtZXJzL215LWVuZXJneS1iaWxsL2hlbHAtZm9yLWN1c3RvbWVycy1pbi1oYXJkc2hpcA..).
When life is tough call Affordable SA 1800 025 539 or visit [www.affordablesa.com.au](https://outlook.office.com/owa/redir.aspx?REF=uS9vZkOIrOv6MsJd-xrudYu4AWGqiRiGqarrbUBtWwjr7PrKRWLXCAFodHRwOi8vd3d3LmFmZm9yZGFibGVzYS5jb20uYXU.) or download the app AffordableSA for free, confidential and independent support to 'get in the know' with services that can best help you.