Strong demand for assistance as locals prepare for winter bill shock

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This winter will be remembered as a costly season for Penrith residents following an energy price rise on July 1 coupled with consistent cold nights.

A survey commissioned by iSelect shows that 86 per cent of NSW households are concerned about their upcoming electricity bill, and Penrith locals are struggling with the rising costs according to spokesperson Laura Crowden.

“Our latest research shows that more NSW households are worried about their energy bill this winter than last year, no doubt partly due to the latest price hikes in July which will see customers in NSW paying up to 17 per cent more,” she said.

“Although reducing your energy use or finding ways to cut back on other costs can make it easier to manage your energy bills, for many Penrith households it may just be a band-aid solution.”

The survey revealed that almost 50 per cent of households are dining out less to budget for their energy costs, and almost 24 per cent may be cutting back on groceries to pay their bills.

Across the region, the NSW Government’s Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) Scheme has already helped hundreds of struggling local families.

The EAPA Scheme operates through a voucher system, each worth $50, to help people experiencing a short-term financial crisis or emergency to pay their energy bill.

The Penrith – Nepean area is St Vincent de Paul Society’s highest area for voucher usage in the state, with $43,300 in vouchers already handed out since July 1.

In the first quarter of the 2016-17 financial year, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW gave out a total of $23,300 in assistance vouchers. This means that in about one month, double the vouchers of the previous year’s three month period have been used.

“Vinnies is the largest provider of the NSW Government vouchers and data collected from our members and staff distributing EAPA vouchers paints a shocking picture,” St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO, Jack de Groot said.

“This is a significant increase with more given out in emergency relief in one month than the whole of winter last year.”

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