PIAC’s submission to the review of the NSW Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme supports the broadening of the EAPA Scheme so that residents of residential parks and customers of other exempt suppliers, such as residents of retirement villages can access this important measure of assistance. Drawing on research on consumer’s experiences of disconnection, PIAC recommends that Industry & Investment NSW work with a range of stakeholders to investigate ways to better communicate the availability of EAPA to consumers – especially those who may not have traditionally sought assistance from community organisations. In discussing Scheme Parameters, PIAC supports the retention of exceptional circumstances provisions that allow community workers discretion in providing EAPA vouchers to consumers facing more extreme levels of hardship. The submission acknowledges that PIAC supports a retailer provided EAPA scheme on the condition that strict criteria and monitoring are employed to avoid abuse. PIAC also contends that eligibility criteria for a retailer provided scheme should facilitate access for consumers whose concerns about privacy or embarrassment have inhibited them from accessing the scheme through a community organisation. Electronic data collection and delivery is also discussed.
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