The South Australian Council of Social Service today called on the state government to increase funding for energy concessions going to low-income households and to reform the system to ensure that we get maximum support for those who need it most.
The call follows last night’s budget predictions of increasing energy costs, and today’s inflation data, which shows that electricity prices jumped in the last quarter in Adelaide by a massive 12.8% - four times the national average price increase. Gas increased even more, with a 17.5% hike.
Higher energy prices forced the Adelaide inflation rate to 2.6% in the September Quarter, and 8.4% for the year – higher than the national rates of 1.8% for the quarter and 7.3% for the year.
SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley said:
"The massive increases in energy prices will impact hardest on those on low incomes, particularly renters, who have little room to move in their budget and little capacity to improve energy efficiency and lower their usage. That is why the state energy concessions are so important.
"With these big energy price increases, we need the government to increase the concession – currently a payment of $241.63 per year. But our concessions report released last year shows that the payment system is currently poorly targeted.
"So, we need more money for concessions and we need to move to a payment based on a percentage of a household energy bill to ensure the money is going to the households who need it most.
"On an average energy bill in South Australia of around $400 a quarter, the September quarter CPI increase equates to an extra $48 on the bill – which is a lot of money for someone on an age pension or income support payment.
"Obviously we need both the state and federal government to do more to intervene in the gas and electricity markets to limit price increases, but an increase in the energy concession is a straightforward response that will have immediate impact."