Lower Victorian Default Offer for electricity welcomed but consumers in energy hardship need much more relief

More callers in paid employment contacting the National Debt Helpline are struggling with energy debt and reporting an increase in energy retailers providing inadequate hardship assistance.

That’s just one of the worrying data points presented by Consumer Action in a submission to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) Draft Decision of the Victorian Default Offer 2024-25.

Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Stephanie Tonkin said the ESC’s draft decision to reduce the VDO by 6.4% for 2024-25 was progress but urged the Commission to consider further reducing the VDO price in light of growing and persistent energy hardship and debt for consumers.

“Demand for our services has grown substantially over the past year, and we are receiving call after call from people in serious financial difficulty,” Ms Tonkin said. 

“Debt is growing, essentials are becoming unaffordable, and cases are more complex as people struggle with the impacts of financial stress. Callers to our financial counselling services are reporting energy debt far greater than any concessions will cover.

“The impacts of climate change are also disproportionately affecting people we speak with on our frontlines every day, through the affordability of essential heating or cooling of the hom” she said.

“The VDO can play a role in stabilising the basic cost of one of these essentials, and should be considered against this broader context,” Ms Tonkin said.

Read our submission and our joint submission with Victorian Council of Social Service and other advocacy groups


Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, media@consumeraction.org.au

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