Central Coast householders whose ability to keep up with energy payments has been impacted by the coronavirus have been thrown a lifeline thanks to a $30M boost to the State Government’s Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) scheme.
Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, has encouraged residents to check their eligibility for EAPA vouchers which are available to households struggling to pay their energy bills because of a short-term financial crisis or emergency.
“COVID-19 is putting added stress on households; between spending more time at home running up the electricity bills and people losing work, it’s never been harder to make ends meet,” Tesch said.
“All levels of government are doing what they can to provide financial assistance or cut fees and charges during the pandemic to make it just that bit easier for households.
“It can be tough to know all the support available to households, but speaking with a Cost of Living Advisor at a Service NSW Centre, or even going online to the Service NSW website, can save locals hundreds or thousands of dollars.”
Customers can apply for the EAPA scheme through Service NSW, with vouchers applied directly to energy accounts to minimise upfront costs to customers.
Energy Minister, Matt Kean, announced the $30M boost the scheme on April 27.
Kean said the EAPA assessment threshold has been temporarily increased so people can receive up to $400 per assessment twice per year, compared to the normal amount of $300.
“This means the annual maximum limit of vouchers for a household with both electricity and gas has increased from $1,200 to $1,600, up by $400,” he said.
“We are expecting more people across NSW to need this emergency bill support as they are faced with unexpected changes to income and usage increases while working from home.”
During the assessment for EAPA vouchers, Government representatives will also contact energy retailers to help get customers onto hardship plans.
Kean also urged Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders to apply for the Seniors Energy Rebate.
“With the COVID-19 virus keeping seniors, who are among the most at-risk in our community, confined to their households and using more electricity, we’re very aware of this extra pressure being applied on their back pockets,” he said.
“This NSW Government annual rebate, which will ease electricity costs by $200 a year, has been available since July last year but a majority of those eligible are yet to apply, and we’re urging them to do so now before applications for this financial year close.”
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders who have already applied this financial year can reapply again from July 1 for the new financial year.
For further information visit service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.
Source: Media release, Apr 27, 2020 – Energy Minister, Matt Kean Media release, Apr 30 – Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch