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New Guidelines for a United Approach to Prevent Hardship for Energy Consumers

The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS), in collaboration with the Energy Retailers Association of Australia (ERAA) has today released its Better Practice Guideline, which details how energy retailers can best support customers experiencing energy hardship.

The Guideline emerged out of SACOSS' 2014 Hardship and Affordability Conference, and includes key principles for action to deal with energy hardship and affordability.

Ross Womersley, Executive Director of SACOSS said the Better Practice Guideline provides great guidance to retailers wanting to improve assistance to consumers experiencing hardship.

“For people on very low incomes the combination of high energy costs, limited energy literacy, and understanding about the ways in which they can access support to deal with issues of hardship and affordability can greatly impact them
“The energy industry has a fundamental role to play in responding to the hardship experienced by its customers. The Guideline gives the industry a powerful set of references, which if implemented, will ensure customers get good support

“We welcome the support of the Energy Retailers Association, and do recognise a number of retailers are already busy taking actions in line with this guideline. We welcome the fact the industry is exercising its responsibility in relation to its customers facing hardship by implementing the best possible practice to support them

“As partners, we all have a role to play in helping to keep consumers connected to essential energy services”, Mr Womersley said.
SACOSS and the ERAA recommend further industry initiatives to be undertaken as the Guideline looks at early intervention of hardship, consumers’ capacity to pay, collaborative partnerships, measurable outcomes and hardship policies. 
Cameron O’Reilly, Chief Executive of the ERAA, has welcomed the SACOSS Better Practice Guideline for Energy Retailers. 
“Energy retailers are continually working with industry stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to better help consumers dealing with hardship. The Guideline encourages best practice customer hardship strategies for assisting customers with payment difficulties
“Retailers are mindful that energy affordability has become a major issue in the face of rising industry cost pressures and have hardship policies in place to help households experiencing temporary payment difficulties
“If you think you are unable to pay your energy bill, please to talk to your retailer as early as possible to see what options are available,” Mr O’Reilly said.
SACOSS and the ERAA value the contribution by stakeholders in advancing this important discussion to date and look forward to working in partnership to progressing the guidelines further.
Download the SACOSS Better Practice Guideline

Published Date: 
Wednesday, 25 March 2015