NOTE: Image taken prior to social distancing restrictions.

Households struggling to pay their energy bills during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic now have access to additional financial support thanks to the NSW Nationals in Government.

The support, available directly through Service NSW and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, is thanks to a $30 million boost to the Government’s emergency support Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme, NSW Nationals Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead said.

Mr Bromhead said the NSW Nationals in Government were doing everything possible to ease cost-of-living pressures during the pandemic and had more than doubled the budget for the EAPA Scheme next financial year.

“For ease of access, residential energy customers can now apply for EAPA vouchers directly through Service NSW and will be called for an assessment without having to leave their house,” Mr Bromhead said.

“I encourage people that need bill support during this tough time to head to the Service NSW website and register for an energy voucher assessment.”

The EAPA assessment threshold has been temporarily increased so people can receive up to $400 per assessment twice per year, compared to the normal amount of $300.

“This means the annual maximum limit of vouchers for a household with both electricity and gas has increased from $1200 to $1600, up by $400,” Mr Bromhead said.

During the assessment for EAPA vouchers, Government representatives will also contact energy retailers with customers to assist with getting customers onto hardship plans, which will further protect customers during this extraordinarily difficult time.

The funding for EAPA is part of almost $100 million recently allocated to help our most vulnerable, including $34 million to prevent homelessness, $10 million to support charity programs and $6 million for Lifeline’s operations in NSW.

People needing further information should visit service.nsw.gov.au and search EAPA.

Don’t forget the seniors rebate!

Mr Bromhead also reminded Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders across NSW to apply for the Seniors Energy Rebate.

“This annual rebate, which will ease electricity costs by $200 a year, has been available since July last year but a majority of those eligible are yet to apply, and we’re urging them to do so now before applications for this financial year close,” Mr Bromhead said.

The program extends generous energy rebates to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders for the first time.

To be eligible, applicants must hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) and be the primary account holder named on the electricity bill.

For more information and to apply online, customers can go to service.nsw.gov.au and type ‘Seniors Energy Rebate’ into the search function.

“Customers who are unable to apply online can call Service NSW on 13 77 88. Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders who have already applied this financial year can reapply again from 1 July 2020 for the new financial year,” Mr Bromhead said.