Government

South Australia boosts electricity bill aid up to $800 for vulnerable households

The South Australian Government has dramatically increased its support for vulnerable households facing high electricity bills, offering up to $800 in aid as part of a $266.2 million package.

The state Government has announced significant expansions to the Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme (EEPS), aimed at providing increased financial assistance to vulnerable households struggling with electricity bills. Under the new revisions, effective from 1 July, eligible South Australians could receive up to $800, a substantial increase from the previous $400 cap.

This enhancement comes as a part of a larger $266.2 million cost-of-living assistance package introduced in this year’s State Budget. Designed to cater to those facing significant financial difficulty, the scheme’s eligibility criteria have also been altered by removing the previous debt cap of $2,000, thereby broadening the reach to include more individuals in need. Additionally, the frequency of available payments has been updated, allowing for assistance every two years, reduced from three.

Individuals seeking support under the EEPS must engage with their energy providers before approaching a financial counsellor who can assist in the application process. Once approved, the financial aid is directly credited to the electricity accounts of the recipients, helping to reduce their outstanding debts.

With these changes, the Government estimates that the scheme will now support over 1,300 households annually—an increase from the 285 recipients who benefited in the 2023-24 financial year.

“The expansions to the electricity payment scheme identified in our recent review will significantly aid in targeting and delivering support where it is most needed,” stated Nat Cook, Minister for Human Services. Cook emphasised that the timing of these adjustments is critical as they coincide with the winter season when many households rely heavily on electrical heating appliances.

In addition to revising the EEPS, the Government has also implemented a one-off additional Cost of Living Concession payment of $243.90 to eligible households, alongside doubling the usual payments for tenants and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.

The impact of these adjustments is complemented by an overall reduction in default electricity prices, which are set to decrease by 2.8 per cent, amounting to a saving of $63 for average households next year. Another initiative by the Australian Government will provide an additional $300 discount, enhancing the financial relief for residents.

Organisations like the SA Financial Counsellors Association (SAFCA) and Uniting Communities have voiced strong support for these changes. Kate Fox, Executive Officer of SAFCA, highlighted the crucial nature of electricity in maintaining health, hygiene, and social connections, especially among those in financial distress. Simon Schrapel, Chief Executive of Uniting Communities, also praised the initiative. He pointed out the critical importance of keeping households powered, particularly during the cold months for those vulnerable groups like families with young children and the elderly.

For more information about the Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme and for a list of financial counsellors who can assist, please go to:
SA.GOV.AU – Emergency help with finances (www.sa.gov.au)

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