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Electricity prices linked to rise in poverty

Courtesy of Uniting for Change

UnitingForChange is a new online engagement project launched by UnitingCare Australia. Below is the first article in The Things that Matter series, by UnitingCare Australia National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds.

One of the persistent causes of poverty in Australia in recent years is the steep rise in electricity prices.

In this election year, a priority for UnitingCare Australia is to ensure that people on low and modest incomes and those who experience additional disadvantage are able to pay for the energy they need to live a decent life.

Energy prices have almost doubled in the last five years.

This hike, which is well beyond the Consumer Price Index, is felt most acutely by lower income and disadvantaged households and is driving increased demand for emergency relief and financial counselling services.

Energy stress sets in once people spend four per cent or more of their income on energy costs.

The latest household expenditure survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows people in the bottom half of income levels are spending more than 10 per cent of their income on essential energy.

There has been a steep rise in disconnection rates in some parts of Australia.

Electricity is an essential service.

There is no substitute.

It is central to good health and access to the technologies that enable workforce and social participation.

UnitingCare Australia research shows that as prices continue to increase, a third of households will cut back on fresh food and study or further training, and a quarter of households will cut back on going to the doctor and buying medicine.

We care about this issue and we want you to be a part of our advocacy for positive change.

Visit UnitingForChange for more information.

Photo : Courtesy of Uniting for Change