QCOSS made a submission in response to the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) draft rule change, aimed at strengthening protections for customers in hardship.
QCOSS agrees that the rule change is urgently needed to address the issues with the current application of hardship policies that have led to:
• increasing levels of energy debt on entry into hardship programs which may indicate that retailers are not proactively identifying customers who may be facing financial difficulties
• high levels of debt for customers that are not receiving hardship assistance
• low levels of customers receiving hardship assistance
• fewer customers completing hardship programs by paying off arrears
• increased overall electricity disconnections.
These issues undermine the intent of the hardship rules: that retailers identify customers that are experiencing payment difficulties due to hardship and assist them to better manage their bills on an ongoing basis.