Policy makers need to increase their focus on non-energy market solutions for low-income and disadvantage households, said ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie at Foresighting Forum 2018 today.
We have talked a lot about market solutions to bring energy prices down. But policy makers are not talking enough about solutions to reduce the size of people’s electricity bills, and improving people’s capacity to pay their bills.
Electricity prices have increased 63% in real terms in a decade, well above average wage growth, while income support payments have remained been relatively flat. For instance, Newstart hasn’t increased in 20 years!
People on low incomes pay disproportionately more of their incomes on electricity than other households. This is on top of rising housing costs.
Governments need to improve energy concessions and increase income support payments.
We also need a greater focus on energy efficiency and household productivity.
Too many people are living in rental properties or public housing with low energy efficiency. This means it costs more to heat and cool, and people don’t have the ability to improve the efficiency of their homes, or access solar or batteries.
We need mandatory energy efficiency standards for rental properties and support for owners to engage in property upgrades.
Cassandra Goldie also says that in addition to ensuring the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is more efficient, equitable and ambitious, the COAG Energy Council should be looking at a package of measures for low-income and disadvantaged households.
Dr Goldie was speaking at the Energy Consumers Australia (ECA) conference today.