Cries for support rise as electricity prices sky-rocket

In the first three weeks of the financial year St Vincent de Paul Society NSW has already distributed more EAPA (Energy Accounts Payment Assistance) vouchers than it did in the three months of winter last year, according to CEO Jack de Groot.

“Vinnies is the largest provider of the NSW Government vouchers and data collected from our members and staff distributing EAPA vouchers paints a shocking picture,” says Mr de Groot.

Last year in the first quarter of the financial year (July, August and September) Vinnies distributed approximately $360,000 worth of EAPA vouchers across the state. This financial year since 1 July (just over three weeks) Vinnies has already given out $400,000 worth of vouchers. Each voucher is worth $50 and goes towards the individual’s electricity bill.

“This is a significant increase with more given out in emergency relief in one month than the whole of winter last year.”

On 1 July the Department of Planning introduced digital vouchers to improve the efficiency and useability of the voucher system, making the huge spike in demand for vouchers readily visible.

“Last year over 55,000 people across NSW were assisted by Vinnies with EAPA vouchers. We’re already seeing a significant increase in the amount of people we’re assisting as well as the amount of assistance they are requiring,” says Mr de Groot.

“The figures for winter EAPA voucher distribution are just scraping the surface in terms of the scale of extra assistance we are also giving out to people struggling to make ends meet.”

“At the end of the day EAPA vouchers are there to help people to stay ahead by reducing their energy bills, but they are a band-aid solution to the deep incision made by rising rental, electricity and transport costs. This, together with the Government’s lack of planning is making it more difficult for low and middle income earners to live safely and with dignity in affordable housing in this state.

“One of the ways the government can make a real difference is by increasing the allocation of  affordable housing. Our Right to Home petition was hugely successful and will be discussed in the NSW Parliament on 3 August. The Labor Opposition has already offered their support to our request for 15% affordable housing on all new developments and we are hoping the Government will move towards a bipartisan approach and change the legislation.”

Media contact:  Felicity Harvey | felicity.harvey@vinnies.org.au | 0417 446 430