Electricity metering for low income households? No way, VCOSS tells Victorian Govt
Prepayment meters not the answer for Victorians
The Victorian Government should not introduce prepaid electricity metering for low income households as such a scheme would leave people without access to this vital essential service, warns the Victorian Council of Social Service.
“Prepayment meters were banned in Victoria in 2004 for good reason: they significantly increase the risk and incidence of loss of electricity supply and offer no offsetting advantages to energy consumers,” said Emma King, CEO of VCOSS.
“VCOSS objects to a system whereby households are required to pre-pay for energy in order to have it supplied, and in which the energy supply is disconnected when it has not been prepaid for.”
“Prepayment metering is an inappropriate means of addressing the very real hardship situations faced by many Victorians. The mass rollout of prepayment should not be pursued.”
“Proponents of prepayment metering often say that it helps households manage their expenditure, avoid bill shock, and avoid running up debt. However the Victorian Customer Protection Framework offers a range of regulations and support systems to do exactly this. What prepayment doesn’t solve is the problem of households not having a reliable, sufficient supply of energy to meet their needs.”
“Victorian energy retailers have a poor track record when it comes to wrongfully disconnecting people’s energy supplies despite having a legal obligation to ensure people in hardship are not inappropriately cut off.”
“Any moves to prepayment metering would hide the true extent of hardship and remove retailers’ obligation to provide access to what is a life-giving essential service.”
“A new VCOSS report on prepayment metering finds the devices fail on three key measures of accountability and success. The report found prepaid meters:
do not solve the problem that they purport to solve
offer nothing to vulnerable consumers that cannot be delivered by other means
cannot deliver the full complement of elements of the customer protection framework.”
“Prepayment metering will leave people worse off, at increased risk of significant hardship and is an idea that should be rejected by the Victorian Government.”
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Emma King contact John Kelly – M: 0418 127 153