Charities say low-income renters need help paying their energy bills
A coalition of community groups is urging the nation’s energy ministers to help low-income renters invest in energy efficiency measures to cut their power bills and reduce emissions.
Forty organisations – including the Australian Council of Social Service, National Shelter, and Brotherhood of St Laurence – wrote an open letter to ministers ahead of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council meeting on Friday.
These groups want ministers to endorse the COAG agenda work plan by progressing energy efficiency measures for existing homes and low-income earners.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said people on low incomes could not afford to invest in energy efficiency measures.
“We absolutely want COAG to endorse the work plan to develop a rating tool for existing homes, national framework for mandated energy efficiency standards for rental properties, and explore funding options for social housing and low income homeowners,” Goldie said.
“But we also want to see a commitment that these measures will be prioritised and not left on a shelf.
“Acting on energy efficiency for people on low income is critical to tackling poverty and inequality as well as providing broader benefits for everyone, including job creation, economic stimulus and reduced carbon emissions.”
Community groups want ministers to establish an ongoing scheme to support low-income people to undertake energy efficiency audits and upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes.
The letter called on governments to prioritise improving the energy efficiency of all public, Aboriginal and community housing properties.
“Improving the energy efficiency of existing homes will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the reliability and security of the energy grid, reduce energy costs through reducing peak demand, create thousands of jobs, and improve economic productivity,” the letter said.
National Shelter executive officer, Adrian Pisarski, said renters faced the greatest barriers to improving energy efficiency.
“Renters can live in some of the worst housing and have little control over the energy efficiency of their homes,” Pisarski said.
“They either go without food and other essentials or they limit energy use to the detriment of their health, in some cases people end up homeless because they prioritise energy bills over rent.”
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