Shocking electricity price rise will mean a cold winter for many

Wholesale electricity price rises are set to increase bills by as much as 20 percent by July, and as a consequence, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW is anticipating a dramatic increase in the number of requests for help this winter.

Launching the 2017 Vinnies Winter Appeal, the Society State President Denis Walsh said this massive price hike will see more people struggling to pay their utility bills.

“The costs that make up many of the essentials of life are rising faster than the CPI,  in particular, the cost of housing, health and utilities[1]. The anticipated energy price surge will hit the hip pockets of low and middle income earners really badly,” says Mr Walsh.

The average electricity debt has already risen from $529 in June 2014 to $631 in June 2015, according to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).

“The Society relies heavily on donations from the public especially in winter when families are forced to choose between buying shoes, a hot meal or paying their heating bill,” he says.

“Last winter the Society distributed over $4 million worth of assistance to people experiencing disadvantage. We anticipate a much greater need this year.”

And yet, says St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO Jack de Groot, individuals and families manage to pull through, given the right supports.

“Ordinary people are able to make an extraordinary difference in their local communities. So often we see how people, at their time of greatest need, assisted by Vinnies members, staff and volunteers, and supported by our generous donors, can do heroic things together to help rebuild their lives,” says Mr de Groot.

“This winter more people like Emma[2] will turn to us to help them manage their sky-rocketing household budgets following the electricity price hikes.

“What happened to Emma and her children could happen to anyone. Fortunately for this family, Vinnies was there to help them when they needed a hand-up most.”

Emma was living in crisis accommodation, hiding with her sons from an abusive husband. While she was there, and making progress, a series of health issues with her sons caused a major setback to her own wellbeing.

However, with support from Jack, her case manager, and the other volunteers at Vinnies, Emma regained her confidence and her prospects for the future. Jack assisted in securing the best treatment her son’s rare medical condition and helped the family find new accommodation.

Together they planned a budget for ongoing health and energy costs so that she could keep a roof over her children’s heads through the cold winter months.

“It is heart-breaking that the numbers we serve are increasing every year. We rely on the generosity of the community. Without their compassion and financial contribution during our Winter Appeal we would not be able to help men, women and children remain warm and fed and in a safe place.”

Please donate to the Vinnies 2017 Winter Appeal and help us continue to support ordinary heroes.

Visit vinnies.org.au or call 13 18 12.

 

[1] The Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) 2015 report on the cost of living

[2] Not her real name