Energy retailers have launched a fresh campaign to raise awareness amongst households and small businesses of the support available if they are experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 or other reasons.
The Australian Energy Council and Financial Counselling Australia are encouraging people, particularly small business owners, who may be experiencing financial difficulties to speak to their energy retailer or seek assistance from a financial counsellor.
The AEC’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said: “We know that energy bills are a top cost of living concern for households, along with rent and mortgages.
“With COVID restrictions it has been tough for some small businesses.
“This campaign is designed to advise energy customers that help is available by approaching your energy retailer for a confidential discussion.
“We recognise that not everyone may feel confident about doing that, so part of the motivation for this campaign is to say that a conversation with your retailer can help you to understand your options.”
Retailers offer a range of assistance measures to all customers on request, while for those experiencing other financial difficulties the campaign alerts them to financial counselling services that are available.
Energy assistance measures will differ between retailers, but can include:
“If you are concerned that you may not be able to afford to pay your bills as they fall due, contact your retailer to obtain the support you need. You won’t be disconnected if you can’t afford to pay.”
A social media campaign will be supported by a fact sheet on financial support available through energy retailers, financial counselling services and the debt helplines.
The CEO of Financial Counselling Australia (FCA), Fiona Guthrie said: “This campaign is a reminder to anyone in financial hardship that there is free help available.
“If you’re struggling to pay bills and debt, a financial counsellor can offer you free, independent and confidential assistance.
About the Australian Energy Council
The Council represents 20 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. These businesses collectively generate the majority of electricity in Australia and sell gas and electricity to over 10 million homes and businesses. AEC members are Australia’s biggest investors in renewable energy.
About financial counsellors
Financial counsellors work in community-based organisations. They offer free and confidential advice to help people in financial hardship get back in control of their finances.
They are different to financial planners and advisors. Financial counsellors do not offer wealth creation strategies or lend money.
AEC Media contact: Carl Kitchen, 0401 691 342
FCA Media contact: Maura Angle, 0418 334 121
Australian retail household electricity prices in the National Electricity Market are the lowest they have been for eight years and are the 10th lowest of the 38 OECD countries, according to analysis undertaken by the Australian Energy Council.
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