"In the first 3 weeks of September we handed out 66 Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) vouchers to needy families. Many of these families had received electricity bills of $1,000 or more!" Said Rev. Bill Crews, founder of The Exodus Foundation. In March just 43 EAPA vouchers were handed out.
EAPA vouchers are funded by the NSW government and issued by charities. They are a barometer of the need within the welfare sector. At The Exodus Foundation demand for EAPA vouchers has increased to such an extent that the welfare officer is assessing clients every afternoon of every week.
"Sky rocketing electricity bills can have a devastating knock-on effect on the poor," said Rev. Crews. "Parents are forced to choose between keeping the power on and doing the weekly grocery shopping. Families and children are suffering under the burden of the electricity price shock."
While electricity retailers record healthy profits, charities like The Exodus Foundation are forced to provide food parcels to needy families whose entire monthly income has been used to pay power bills.
"Given the profits being made by the electricity retailers I question the need for the persistent increases in electricity prices," said Rev. Crews. "I urge community leaders to more strongly consider the impact of these price rises on the poorest in our community."