Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action) has provided feedback on the Essential
Services Commission’s key review questions as part of their review of the implementation of the energy payment difficulty framework (PDF) since its commencement on 1 January 2019.
The introduction of the PDF was a major reform to Victorian energy regulation and was strongly supported by us and other community organisations. As one of the operators of the National Debt Helpline in Victoria, Consumer Action is well placed to comment on the effectiveness of the PDF since its introduction, including potential gaps in consumer protections.
Energy debts are one of the most common reasons people contact our financial counsellors. We hear first-hand from Victorians in debt and struggling to stay on top energy bills and the impact that this has on their lives. We also hear about assistance provided (or not) by energy retailers and how this helps people manage their debts.
Since the PDF was introduced, we have released two detailed reports1 based on calls to our financial counsellors. These reports seek to understand if and how the assistance energy companies are providing to customers facing hardship is improving.
Our second Energy Assistance Report, released in September 2021, is an appendix to this submission.
We have also included several case studies in this submission to illustrate common issues people report to our financial counsellors when trying to access hardship assistance from their energy retailer.
Read the full submission (PDF).211130 Submission – PDF key questions