Energy rebates for low income households

19 September 2017


The Department of Planning and Environment provides more than $245 million in energy rebates to around 27 percent of NSW households. A report released today by the Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, highlights that the department is not monitoring the rebate schemes to understand whether they are delivering the best outcomes.

Most rebates are ongoing payments applied directly to energy bills reducing the amount payable by the householder. The structure of these rebates is complex and can be inequitable. Some households are eligible for four different rebates, each with its own eligibility criteria.  Also, some households in very similar circumstances receive different levels of support depending on what type of energy is used in their home or which adult in the house is the energy account holder. For example, a household using both electricity and gas receives more assistance than a household with electricity alone even if total energy bills are the same. 

'Reducing the number of separate schemes and simplifying eligibility requirements offers the most scope for improving the effectiveness of the schemes,' says the Auditor-General.

The Department also funds charitable and non-government organisations to distribute crisis support to households at risk of being disconnected from their energy supply. 'These organisations are well-placed to provide this community service, but the Department needs to improve their oversight to ensure that funds are distributed in a consistent way, and that guidelines are followed,' says the Auditor-General. 

The Auditor-General also found that the Department could do more to ensure that eligible families know about the energy rebates and crisis support available. 

The audit was conducted prior to an announcement by the Premier on 3 September 2017 that the value of energy rebates is increasing.  As the audit was focused on the administration of the schemes, the audit conclusions and recommendations are not impacted by changes in the value of the rebates. 
 

Further information

A full copy of the report is available here.

Please contact Barry Underwood on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au

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