Updated 16 February 2020
- If you are suffering financial hardship contact your energy provider and let them know – they may be able to help
- If you contact your energy provider you are unlikely to have the gas or electricity disconnected even if you can’t pay the bill
- If you can, switch to the cheapest gas and electricity plans you can find
- Make sure you register for any government rebates or concessions you are entitled to. Usually, they cannot be backdated so register ASAP
Assistance options from energy companies
Energy costs are a major part of most household budgets these days and heading into winter they are only likely to increase. If you have lost your job or your income has reduced significantly it’s going to be tough paying your energy bills. The good news is there is a range of things in place to help – from energy company hardship procedures to government rebates.
The government has told energy companies that:
- all consumers who are suffering financial hardship should be offered a payment plan or hardship arrangement (regardless of whether they meet the usual requirements for hardship)
- no consumers gas or electricity should be disconnected without their agreement before 31 March 2021 or later
- no customer should be referred to a debt collection agency or have their credit file updated until at least the 31 March 2021
- they should be willing to make changes to existing payment plans that customers may have in place
The bottom line is, you won’t have the gas or electricity disconnected if you follow some simple steps. The main thing you need to keep in mind is to contact your energy company. They can’t help if they don’t know you need it.
If you are under financial pressure but you can still pay your bill
If you are still working or earning an income and you can still afford to pay the bill but you are worried things might get worse:
- Make sure you are on the cheapest plan you can find – don’t waste a single dollar paying more than you need to for gas or electricity. The electricity market in the Northern Territory is open and competitive – but there are limited options
- Make sure you are claiming all the government benefits and rebates you are entitled to. Many states have energy rebates for seniors and low-income earners. If they are on offer, take them
- If you need to, extend the due date for payment of your current bill. Energy company’s will usually agree to extend the due date by about a month
- Ask if you can go onto a payment plan that will “smooth” your payments. This might help avoid situations where you get bill shock for example, in summer because of cooling costs
- Ask for advice from your energy company about reducing your energy costs. There are all sorts of ways to reduce your energy costs from changing your lights and appliances to changing your behaviour
If you have lost your job, been stood down or cannot afford to pay the bill
If you cannot afford to pay your bill there are a number of options available:
- Contact your energy provider and ask them if they have a hardship program that allows you to keep the electricity or gas connected while you try to pay your bills
- Make sure you are registered for any government rebates you are entitled to – this will make sure that you only pay what you need to pay
- See if you can work out a payment plan with your provider, but if you can’t, try not to worry – you won’t have your gas or electricity cut off – at least not yet.
- Make sure you have registered for income support. Read our guide to income support for people impacted by COVID-19
The NT Government offers the following concessions and assistance packages:
NT Concession Scheme – the NT Concession Scheme is designed to provide assistance with the cost of living. The scheme is means-tested. To be eligible you must be a resident of the Northern Territory, an Australian citizen or permanent resident and a current recipient of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Parenting Payment, DVA Repatriation Health Card (Gold Card), DVA Repatriation Pharmaceuticals Benefits Card (Orange Card), Pensioners Card (Blue Card) or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
The scheme provides discounted rates for electricity. More information on these rates is available here
NT Seniors Recognition Scheme – the Seniors Recognition Scheme provides a $500 pre-paid card to spend on a number of things including utility bills. The scheme is available to people who reside in the Northern Territory for 183 days or more each financial year, are Australian citizens or permanent residents, and are 65 years of age or older. More information on the scheme is available here
Support by energy provider
|Jacana Energy||More details||Payment extension|
|Call 1800 522 262|
Request a payment extension
|Rimfire Energy||Call 08 8943 0650|
|Power & Water Corporation||More details||Payment extensions||Apply for a Payment Extension|
If you are concerned about the financial impact of COVID-19 or you are facing the uncertainty of losing your job or having your income significantly reduced we can help. Sign up to MoneyBrilliant and we will give you access to a host of tools and features to help you organise your finances and make better decisions about your money. We’ll also give you tailored insights about the financial assistance available from governments and businesses to help you face the economic and financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This summary has been prepared by MoneyBrilliant Pty Ltd (AFSL 492711, ACL 493068). The information in this summary is of a factual nature only. We are not suggesting or recommending that you take any particular course of action in relation to any financial product or service. It does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. If you need financial advice or taxation advice you should seek advice from a licensed financial adviser or tax agent. You may also be able to access additional information from the websites of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the relevant product providers.