St Vincent de Paul Society seeks simple electricity contracts for low-income families

Social justice plea: St Vincent de Paul regional president for Sutherland Shire, Rob Lennon, and regional president for St George, Colleen Meighan.
Picture John Veage
Social justice plea: St Vincent de Paul regional president for Sutherland Shire, Rob Lennon, and regional president for St George, Colleen Meighan. Picture John Veage

THE St Vincent de Paul Society has called for simpler electricity contracts, abolition of late payment and early termination fees and a fairer, simpler concession scheme for low-income families.

Sutherland Shire regional president Rob Lennon and St George regional president Colleen Meighan promoted a social justice statement, released to coincide with the state election.

The statement identified three priority areas, based on the experiences of society members, as affordable housing and homelessness, energy affordability and cost-of-living pressures, and refugees and asylum seekers.

The statement said more customers were accruing large electricity debts that ultimately led to disconnection.

"Families and low-income households that are under financial stress are often faced with unsustainable repayment plans and further disadvantaged by impacts that falling into debt has on their credit rating," it said.

The statement said the present concessions system provided inadequate assistance for those in most need and was inequitable.

A low- income family of four with high energy needs received the same rebate as a single person in a smaller property.

It said the voucher scheme for people in need was inadequate, poorly targeted and administratively burdensome.

"The scheme is considered discriminatory by some people as it is only available to those who know of it and can access it through a charitable organisation, that some people are reluctant to approach."

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