Household energy debt rising despite improving economy
16 April 2021
The amount of household debt has escalated since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest data from Victoria’s independent economic regulator.
While the number of customers in debt to gas and electricity companies has slowly, but steadily increased, the amount owed has risen sharply and now stands at more than $103 million.
Essential Services Commission chair Kate Symons says the number of customers requiring assistance with their bills is at its highest level since the pandemic began, with average debt jumping over the past few months.
“What is really worrying is that most of the indicators of harm are pointing in the wrong direction.
“While broad economic conditions have improved, more than 55,000 residential customers are receiving payment assistance and the number of disconnections is on the rise,” she said.
Areas of major concern include –
Average arrears for residential customers is at its highest level since April 2020
The average number of households missing bill payments is at its highest level since April 2020
The number of disconnections has risen sharply since the beginning of the year
Ms Symons says while the total number of customers in debt has only increased seven per cent, the amount owing has gone up 35 per cent since April 2020.
“This shows the pain is intensifying for those who are in financial difficulty and I’m concerned some sections of the community are getting left behind, she said.
Customers who are concerned about paying their bills should contact their energy provider and ask about payment options or whether concessions or grants may be available to them.