Energy Hardship Review

Project Timeline

  1. 1 Terms of Reference Completed or in progress
  2. 2 Issues Paper Completed or in progress
  3. 3 Submissions Completed or in progress
  4. 4 Draft Report Completed or in progress
  5. 5 Consultation Completed or in progress
  6. 6 Final Report Completed or in progress

Inquiry into best practice financial hardship programs of energy retailers.

On 4 February 2015, the Minister for Finance, in consultation with the Minister for Energy and Resources, issued terms of reference to the Essential Services Commission to inquire into best practice financial hardship programs of energy retailers.

Final Report Released

The Commission has now published its Final Report - Supporting customers, avoiding labels - outlining the findings of the Energy Hardship Inquiry. The final report is the result of extensive consultation with energy retailers and consumer groups.

The Final Report recommends a new framework that provides a set of clear and enforceable minimum standards that ensure those struggling to pay their energy bills have a right to assistance.

The Inquiry found that:

  • While the causes of payment difficulty are unique to individual customers, the types of payment difficulty are not.
  • All types of payment difficulty can be objectively determined using standard customer account data.
  • By the time customers are provided with assistance, their debt is often too large to be addressed by the assistance that retailers are required to provide.
  • Hardship programs are generally ineffective at preventing customers from accumulating debt.
  • Information is not readily available on what assistance retailers will provide.
  • Many customers with payment difficulty are not receiving assistance.
  • While threre are obligations on retailers to offer assistance, there are no prescribed minimum standards. This means that, in practice, the nature of the assistance provided varies widely.

The paper can be viewed by clicking the link below:

Supporting Customers, Avoiding Labels. Energy Hardship Inquiry Final Report.

Draft Report

The Commission published its draft report outlining the preliminary findings of the inquiry, on 1 September 2015. Submissions closed on 2 October 2015. The paper can be viewed by clicking the link below:

Supporting Customers, Avoiding Labels. Energy Hardship Inquiry Draft Report.

Issues Paper

The Commission released an issues paper on 27 March 2015. Submissions closed on 1 May 2015. The paper can be viewed by clicking the link below:

Inquiry into the financial hardship arrangements of energy retailers: our approach

Relevant publications

The current regulatory obligations regarding hardship assistance are described in the Energy Retail Code. Relevant sections include Part 3 - Customer Hardship, Part  6 - De-energisation (disconnection) and also clause 33 - Payment difficulties.

Page last updated 22 March 2016