One-Off Energy Assistance Payments and Energy Rebates
While there are a number of concessions and rebates in Australia for those who are eligible for ongoing help and support, including rebates for seniors and pensioners, family rebates, and solar rebates, there are also several one-off energy assistance payments available to those who might be experiencing sudden financial hardship. If you suddenly find yourself facing an emergency, and unable to pay your energy bills, keep reading below to see what options might be available to you.
One-off Energy Assistance Payment 2019-2020
The One-off Energy Assistance Payment closed in 2019, but was available to all Australians, regardless of the state they lived in, who were eligible for certain payments or pensions through Services Australia and Centrelink. The EAP Payment gave eligible Australians the following, paid straight into the eligible Australian’s bank account:
- $75 for singles
- $62.50 for each eligible member of a couple
- $75 for each eligible member of a couple who are living apart due to ill health.
Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme QLD
The Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme is available to Queensland households experiencing problems paying their electricity or gas bills due to an unforeseen emergency or financial crisis. This one-off emergency payment is available every two years to eligible households, and pays up to $720.
Am I eligible for the one-off Energy Assistance Payment in Queensland?
In order to be eligible for the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme in Queensland, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be responsible for paying the outstanding bill, even if the bill is not necessarily in your name, and
- Hold a current concession card, OR
- Have an income equal to or less than the Australian Government’s maximum income rate for part-age pensioners, OR
- Be part of your energy provider's hardship program or payment plan
How can I apply for the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme?
If you need to apply for the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme, your first step is to contact your energy provider. Once you contact your energy provider, they will consider all the eligibility criteria and start the application process if you are considered eligible.
Once the application process has begun, your provider will give you an application number. This application number will need to be used to complete the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme application form. After the application form is completed, your needs will be assessed, and if approved, a one-off payment will be sent to your energy provider for your account.
Energy Accounts Payment Assistance: EAPA Vouchers NSW
Energy Accounts Payment Assistance vouchers are vouchers available to residents of New South Wales who might be having difficulty paying their energy bills due to short-term financial crisis or emergency. The EAPA electricity and gas vouchers are available as $50 vouchers, sent electronically directly to the energy provider to help pay energy bills.
Am I eligible for the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance?
In order to be eligible for the EAPA vouchers you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Have an electricity or natural gas account at your primary place of residence, which must be a residential NSW address
- Be the electricity or gas account holder with bills in your name
- Be experiencing short-term financial hardship or crisis that has impacted your ability to pay your energy bills either in part or in full
However, you will not be eligible for the EAPA vouchers if you:
- Use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) for your gas supply
- Reside in an embedded network such as retirement village, or caravan park
- Have already paid your energy bills
- Hold a business account
- Are not the account holder
- Have closed your energy account
How can I apply for the Energy Assistance Payment in New South Wales?
In order to apply for the EAPA vouchers, you’ll need to make sure you have the following:
- A MyServicesNSW Account
- Two documents with proof of identity with the names and address matching those on your electricity or gas bill
- Personal and contact details
- A complete copy of your current electricity and/or gas bill
- Confirmation that you are on your energy providers hardship plan (if applicable)
- Evidence of proof of financial crisis or emergency (optional)
Those applying for the EAPA vouchers can do so either online directly through ServiceNSW or with an approved non-government EAPA representative provider. If applying directly with ServiceNSW online, a NSW Government representative will call you within 2-4 weeks to assess your EAPA voucher eligibility which may involve a 3-way call with your energy provider.
However, you can choose to apply through a non-government EAPA provider, such as the Salvation Army or Wesley Mission. You might choose to do this instead if:
- You prefer an in-person assessment
- You don’t have an email address
- You are looking for additional support such as financial counseling, or food and clothing assistance
Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS) WA
Hardship Utility Grant Scheme in Western Australia assists utility customers who are unable to pay their utility bills due to financial hardship. HUGS isn’t just water or energy payment assistance, a key principle is to connect utility providers with customers in order to share responsibility for managing financial difficulty and issues with payments by working together to create a manageable payment arrangement with the purpose of avoiding disconnection and debit escalation. Financial assistance through HUGS will only be available once other strategies such as payment arrangements have been exhausted.
How much can I get with the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme?
The amount you could receive through the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme depends on a number of factors but must not exceed 85% of the amount you have outstanding on your water, gas, or electricity bill.
- If you live south of the 26th parallel (south of Denham), you are eligible for up to $580 per financial year.
- If you live north of the 26th parallel (north of and including Denham), you are eligible for up to $960 per financial year.
If you and your energy provider have arranged an 180-day debt payment plan, which you have complied with, your provider can recommend an additional $50 if the equivalent amount is waived from your outstanding debt.
Am I eligible for the Energy Assistance Payment in Western Australia?
Your eligibility for the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme depends on if your utility provider assess you as being in of the following situation:
- You contact your utility provider to discuss your outstanding debt and you are assessed by your utility provider as being in financial hardship and not in payment difficulty, and
- You have exhausted all your options with the utility provider and enter into a payment arrangement for at least 180 days to address the outstanding debt, and
- After completion of the payment arrangement, if your outstanding bill is still more than $300
When am I not eligible for a Hardship Utility Grant?
- You do not reside at the supply address
- You’ve already used your grant limit for the financial year
- You’ve been assessed as not being in financial hardship
- You have bottled gas
- For Water Corporation, Busselton Water, Aquest and Lancelin South Water customers, HUGS is only available for the owner-occupiers of residential properties
- You live in an Aboriginal community and have your water managed by the Water Corporation
- Your debt transfer is older than 12 months, such as debt transferred when moving house
How can I apply for the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme?
There are three steps when it comes to applying for the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme.
Utility Provider Assessment: All HUGS applications are made through your utility provider, so the first step to beginning the process is to contact your energy or water provider as soon as you are experiencing financial difficulties. Once you have started the application, your utility provider will work with you in order to achieve the following situation:
- Assess whether you are experiencing payment difficulties or in a state of financial hardship
- Sign you up for the Utility hardship program if applicable
- Set up an 180-day payment plan arrangement
Following the 180-day payment plan, and having avoided a disconnection or restriction notice, you can then request your energy provider to begin the HUGS application on your behalf.
Currently disconnected?Under certain circumstances, you might still be eligible for HUGS so contact your utility provider in order to discuss your options and eligibility. If you are eligible, you will also need to be sure you pay the minimum amount required to reconnect your property (usually 50% of the outstanding debt) and enter into a future payment arrangement of at least 180 days.
HUGS Service Centre Assessment: After your utility provider assesses your circumstances and you’ve met all the compliance and eligibility requirements, your application will be sent to the HUGS Service Centre. The Service Centre will comprehensively assess your situation and provide additional support and advice as to whether you will be recommended for a HUGS grant.
Final HUGS Approval: The HUGS Service Centre will submit a recommendation on your HUGS application to the Department of Communities which will do a final assessment and review of the application and either approve or reject it. If your application is approved it will be sent directly to your provider.
What if my HUGS application is denied?If your HUGS application is denied, you will be notified directly. You can request a review of the decision within four weeks of the date of the notification it was denied.Requests to review must be made in writing and either sent by post to:
Department of Communities
Locked Bag 3
Perth BC 6849
Or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Utility relief grant scheme VIC: Energy Assistance Payment in Victoria
The utility grant relief scheme offers help to Victorians facing a temporary financial crisis and unable to pay their electricity, gas, or water bill. The utility relief grant in Victoria is available on a two-year basis for each utility applied for, and is available for both renters and homeowners.
How much can I get with the Utility relief grant?
The Utility relief grant scheme in Victoria is available to households experiencing sudden financial hardship. For each utility (electricity, gas, and water) a household can receive $650 per each utility type with a separate application per utility or up to $1,300 for households with a single source of energy. This rebate is available every two years.
Am I eligible for the Utility relief grant?
In order to be eligible for the Utility relief grant scheme, you must show that you have no way of paying your utility account without assistance and meet one of the following:
- You or someone in your household has experienced family violence
- You had a recent decrease in income, such as due to job loss
- You had a high unexpected cost for an essential item
- The cost of shelter is more than 30% of your household’s total income
How can I apply for the Utility relief grant scheme?
To apply for the one-off utility relief grant scheme in Victoria, you will need to first contact your electricity, gas, or water provider to request an application. Your retailer will ask you some preliminary questions before they start the application. The utility relief grant application can be completed online, or with a paper form, and can be completed with the support of a friend, social worker, or financial counselor.
Energy Assistance Payment FAQ
What is an energy assistance payment?
A one-off energy assistance payment is exactly what it sounds like, a payment you receive once to help you with your energy bills. Unlike other energy rebates, which might be applied to your energy bill or transferred to your account every year, every six months, or on every energy bill, energy assistance payments are available if you’re experiencing sudden financial hardship and might need immediate help.
Am I eligible for an energy assistance payment?
Eligibility for an energy assistance payment depends on the state you live in, as the federal one-off Energy Assistance Payment scheme is now closed for 2019-2020. If you live in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, or Western Australia, however, there are state-level energy assistance payments and schemes to help residents of those states.
How much is the one off energy assistance payment from Centrelink?
The one-off energy assistance payment from Centrelink (2019) is now closed. However, eligible Australians were able to receive $75 for single recipients and $125 for couples. The amount eligible recipients can receive for state-level energy assistance payments vary by state.