Financial assistance with energy bills
Financial counsellors provide free, confidential financial education and support to householders who are experiencing financial difficulties.
A financial counsellor can:
- negotiate and advocate with energy retailers on your behalf
- develop strategies for helping you manage your finances and bills
- help you set up affordable payment plans for outstanding bills
- help you access your energy retailer’s hardship program
- help you apply for concessions and emergency relief.
It might be a good time to contact a financial counsellor when you:
- have complex debt, such as a mix of credit card debt and loans
- are worried about managing expenses or are struggling to pay living expenses
- are struggling to meet rent or mortgage payments
- have been compromising on food or health costs to meet other expenses
- have been borrowing from payday lenders, friends or family to address outstanding debt
- have been contacted by a debt collector
- have been taken to court for a debt.
Contact the South Australian Financial Counsellors Association or call 1800 007 007 to find a financial counsellor near you.
Australian Government assistance
Centrelink utilities allowance
You may qualify for the Centrelink Utilities Allowance, to help meet costs of regular bills such as gas and electricity, if you receive either:
- Partner Allowance or Widow Allowance, and you are under Age Pension age, or
- Disability Support Pension and are under 21 years old with no dependent children.
Bill management for Centrelink recipients
Centrepay is a free direct bill-paying service offered to people who receive income support payments from Centrelink.
Customers receiving payments from Centrelink can choose to have regular amounts deducted from their Centrelink payments to pay for regular bills like electricity and gas.
Essential Medical Equipment Payment
The Essential Medical Equipment Payment helps with the additional costs of running essential medical equipment and/or medically required heating or cooling. Check the Human Services website for details, as only certain equipment is eligible, and a medical practitioner must certify the medical use of heating or cooling.
Emergency payments and loans
Emergency payments and micro-finance schemes may help you avoid disconnection of your energy service, or enable you to purchase essential household items if you are on a low income or experiencing financial hardship.
Centrelink crisis payment
If you receive Centrelink income support payments and are in severe financial hardship, you may be able to access a one-off crisis payment.
Visit the Department of Human Services website or call 131 021 for more information or to make a claim.
Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme (EEPS)
You may be able to access EEPS assistance if you are experiencing significant financial difficulties or if you receive an energy bill concession from the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion and have had your electricity disconnected (or are at risk of disconnection).
EEPS assistance is only accessible through financial counsellors (see above), who will assess your financial situation before lodging an application. You can only receive an EEPS payment once every three years.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS)
NILS provides no fee, interest-free loans for people living on a low income.
Loans can be used to purchase essential household items like fridges, washing machines and furniture, education essentials (such as computers and text books) and some medical and dental services, but can’t be used for regular household expenses such as rent, bills or food.
For eligibility criteria, further information and a list of loan providers, visit the NILS website.
StepUP Loans are no fee, low-interest loans for people on low incomes to use for personal or household purposes.
For eligibility criteria and further information, visit the Good Shepherd Microfinance website.
Wyatt Trust Financial Assistance Grants
The Wyatt Trust’s Financial Assistance Grants stream provides small, one-off grants to eligible South Australian individuals and families for essential household goods and services, including utility bills, rental or mortgage arrears, essential household furniture or second-hand white goods.
Only people working in a recognised agency on behalf of clients experiencing financial hardship can submit applications for financial assistance grants. For more information, visit the Wyatt website.