New energy rebates a big win for NSW consumers

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement of new and increased energy rebates for low-income and vulnerable people.

The NSW Government will introduce a new $90 gas rebate for low-income consumers, and remove the loophole that stopped low-income consumers from receiving energy rebates just because they live in retirement villages and residential communities. The Government will also increase the Life Support Rebate and make the payment available for electric mobility devices used by quadriplegics.

‘Retail gas prices have gone up by more than 10% in the last year. This means that people who use gas have seen no relief from higher energy costs, even as electricity prices have stabilised. We’re pleased to see support for those consumers,’ said Edward Santow, PIAC’s CEO.

The last increase in the Life Support Rebate was in 2009, with the rate for some equipment not having changed since 2004. Over the same period, average electricity prices have doubled.

The increase in the Life Support Rebate restores its value relative to electricity prices, while also reflecting improvements in the efficiency of life support equipment over that time.

Extending the Life Support Rebate to mobility aids for tetraplegics will provide relief for thousands of people who need to use electricity to get around or leave their homes. Currently, people in electric wheelchairs can become socially isolated because they cannot afford to go out and expend their batteries.

PIAC also welcomed the announcement that all rebates would be available to people in retirement villages and residential communities.

‘For too long, some people have missed out on assistance because of where they lived. We’re pleased the NSW Government is correcting that inequality.

‘Having affordable electricity and gas is essential for a dignified life. This announcement helps to address the energy affordability problem for some of our community’s most disadvantaged people,’ Mr Santow said.