Top-up funding demonstrates depth of energy cost crisis

TasCOSS welcomes the funding injection of $200,000 from Aurora Energy for the Energy Hardship Fund, which will directly help Tasmanians who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

TasCOSS CEO, Ms Adrienne Picone, said Aurora’s decision to financially sure-up ongoing delivery of support in the short-term is important, however it also provides a stark reminder of the true depth of energy stress in the community.

“This additional funding is only necessary because of the Tasmanian Government’s failure to act on skyrocketing energy prices which is resulting in more people seeking financial support from community service organisations,” Ms Picone said.

“Without Aurora’s contributions, the Fund would have been exhausted, such is the need for financial support in the community.

“Also concerning is the new funding agreement for the Energy Hardship Fund for 2023-26, which will see the funding frozen at the same level as in 2020 ($1.05 million over three years), representing a real funding cut in addition to the shortfall Aurora is bearing.

“With more people seeking help due to higher and unaffordable energy prices, the result of this real cut in funding will likely see a reduction in the amount of assistance provided to people seeking support, fewer people able to be supported, or community members being turned away.”

Ms Picone said Tasmanians were also bracing themselves for another large increase in electricity prices in the coming weeks, following the 11.8% increase in prices last year. 

“We know household budgets are already at breaking point and if prices follow the increases happening on the mainland, what we will see is further debt and greater financial pressure on Tasmanian households,” she said. 

“We are extremely concerned that rising energy costs will see more Tasmanians entrenched in financial hardship.”

TasCOSS is calling for the Government to take more direct action to support households to manage their energy bills and help to prevent people entering energy debt by:

  • Capping electricity prices (as it did in 2018 and said it would do again to protect Tasmanian households and businesses from future price hikes);
  • Undertaking a review of the electricity concession scheme to ensure it is well targeted and appropriate; and
  • Investing in a program of household energy efficiency initiatives to support low income and rental households to lower their energy bills.