Media Release 17 March, 2017
QCOSS welcomes AGL’s a Fairer Way package and calls on all energy retailers and other service providers to follow suit
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) today welcomed AGL’s Fairer Way initiative as a great example of a service provider proactively addressing some of the long-standing issues in the energy retail market.
QCOSS CEO Mark Henley said, “Late fees and discounts that only apply if you always pay your bill on time result in the most vulnerable households paying more for essential services. AGL’s commitment to remove these penalties for customers on concessions and those in hardship is a great step forward.”
AGL is also to be congratulated on their investment in Queensland community services through the Switched On Communities program. The $500,000 program, funded by AGL, is a great example of cross sector collaboration which is having a positive impact on people experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage.
Mr Henley said, “Community services play an important role in educating and assisting people to get good outcomes in complex markets like energy. We have seen some households save hundreds of dollars on their energy bills as a result of this program. We know there is so much still to be done. Unfortunately, without further funding the program is due to finish in May this year.”
Cost of living is a key focus for QCOSS in 2017 as more and more people are struggling to pay their everyday bills.
Mr Henley said, “We are seeing examples of people getting into trouble with an energy or telco bill and getting a ‘pay-day’ loan to pay it off, then they need a credit card to pay off the loan, and they end up juggling multiple debts and spiralling out of control.”
“We encourage all energy retailers, as well as other service providers such as telcos and banks, to follow AGL’s lead,” he said.
QCOSS is keen to work with service providers across a range of industries to deliver other programs like Switched On Communities to help those who are struggling most with cost of living issues.
“We believe that all industries could benefit from investing in community sector partnerships to provide better support to their most vulnerable customers.”
For more than 55 years QCOSS has been a leading force for social change to eliminate poverty and disadvantage. With members from throughout Queensland, QCOSS supports a strong community service sector.
QCOSS CEO – Mark Henley 0448 075 087
QCOSS Communication Manager – Karen Murphy 0423 245 252